A Guide to Advanced IVF Treatment Options
When first starting out with fertility care, many people think that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the only option. However, there are actually a number of advanced options that can greatly improve your chances of achieving pregnancy. Below is a quick guide to treatment options that go beyond traditional IVF.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
For an egg to become fertilized, sperm must first push through the outer layer of the egg. However, sometimes sperm is unable to penetrate this outer layer and reach the inside of the egg. To overcome this barrier, a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be used to inject a single sperm directly into the egg. ICSI is often used when:
- The female partner’s eggs have a thick outer layer
- The male partner’s sperm has low motility
- The male partner has a low sperm count
- The male partner’s sperm is unable to attach to the egg
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is a procedure that is often utilized by couples and individuals who have a surplus of viable embryos after a successful round of IVF. After transferring the desired number of embryos, the rest of the embryos are frozen for later use. This allows people to have another child later on without going through an entire IVF cycle.
FET can also be used in conjunction with a standard IVF cycle – instead of immediately transferring the fertilized embryos to the uterus after development, the embryos are frozen while the recipient’s body and hormone levels recover from the IVF process. As such, FET may improve the chances of having a successful pregnancy.
As an embryo develops, it’s surrounded by cells that make up a protective shell known as zona pellucida. Before implanting into the uterine wall, the embryo breaks through this shell as it grows. When embryos develop in the laboratory, doctors have the chance to make a small hole in the shell before it is transferred into the patient’s body. This process is known as assisted hatching. Assisted hatching is sometimes used to increase the likelihood of pregnancy in women who have failed to conceive in previous IVF cycles.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
Before embryo transfer occurs, some patients may opt for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which is a procedure that can help detect genetic abnormalities in an embryo. There are three types of PGT:
- PGT-A, which screens for certain types of chromosome abnormalities
- PGT-M, which tests for a specific genetic condition
- PGT-SR, which tests for structural rearrangements of the chromosomes
PGT-A is often recommended for those who have suffered previous miscarriages and/or have older children with chromosome abnormalities. If either you, your partner, or members of either of your families are known to carry a single-gene condition, such as cystic fibrosis, you may want to consider PGT-M. Similarly, PGT-SR is more commonly conducted if either partner has a rearrangement of their own chromosomes.
To learn more about fertility care and advanced IVF options in the state of Texas, contact Aspire Fertility today and request a consultation.