Pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), also called PGT is a technique for testing whether embryos have any problems with their chromosomes, which is thought to be the most common reason why IVF treatment fails. During PGS, also known as PGT, a single cell or a small number of cells is / are removed from the embryo and the DNA in these cells is then tested to see whether the embryo has any chromosomal abnormalities.

Until now, there hadn’t been many significant trials run on PGS to show clinicians whether the test could improve the chances of a patient’s success.  There have been small clinical trials in the past which have shown that PGS can improve IVF success rates for women under 37 with no history of miscarriage or failed IVF cycles. Some clinics currently recommend PGS to older women, who have a history of miscarriage, failed IVF cycles, a family history of chromosome problems or have a partner whose sperm is at risk of chromosomal abnormalities.

Clinical Study

To date, there is little evidence to show that PGS improves success rates for these groups and a major international study has recently been carried out to address this very query. The findings of this study were published in the journal Human Reproduction earlier this month and the principal question which the study investigation was “whether genetic testing to select embryos for transfer, increases the likelihood of a live birth within 1 year in advanced maternal age (women aged 36 – 40 years) using ICSI treatment, compared to those having ICSI without chromosome analysis?”

The study was performed on 396 women between the ages of 36 and 40, across 9 fertility centres located in 7 different countries. The study randomly allocated half of the participants to undergo the PGS, whilst the other half did not. The study found that the number of women who had a live birth within 12 months (24%) was identical in both groups, which is interesting. It also found, however, that women who had undergone the screening were significantly less likely to suffer a miscarriage.

Is PGS included in your Assured Fertility IVF Plan?

Pre-genetic screening is normally offered at an additional cost by many clinics and can be very expensive. If you are under an Assured Fertility Plan and your consultant deems PGS beneficial to you, we will cover the cost of this for you at no extra cost. Assured Fertility works to make the process as transparent as possible with no hidden charges, so everything needed is included in your plan fee.

The opinions of fertility experts vary hugely on the topic of PGS and although the majority will agree that it is a useful tool in certain circumstances, it is still not fully understood what effect performing this test may have on the developmental biology of eggs / embryos, and many clinicians have called for more research to be done.

This subject is definitely a hot topic in the fertility world currently and I am sure there will be many more studies undertaken in the near future which will weigh up the pros and cons of this procedure.

Holly Scott, Patient and Clinic Liaison Manager


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