You’ve determined you’re a candidate for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). And you have done some background work to prepare yourself for what the process entails. Even if you are months or years away from wishing to conceive a pregnancy, there are many practical steps you can take now to help make the process as successful and stress-free as possible.
☑ Research IVF clinics
There are many considerations in choosing an IVF clinic: IVF success rates, location, cost, genetic counseling support, and experience with PGT are just a few. Take some time to research clinics and individual physicians through www.sart.org, clinic websites and online reviews.
☑ Schedule a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist
It’s never too early to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist. These are physicians who specialize in infertility and assisted reproductive technologies like PGT. This appointment can help you more fully understand the IVF process, required medications, and timeline, and make sure the doctor and their team are a good fit for you. These consultations can typically be done by Skype or telephone if you do not live in the same area as the IVF clinic you are considering.
☑ Meet with a financial counselor at the IVF clinic of your choice
IVF with PGT can be expensive, so learning in advance about the potential costs at the clinic you choose as well as available funding options will help you anticipate the overall expense and set a budget. Starting the process early may also allow you to space some of the expenses out over time or save now for when you are ready to start the process.
☑ Perform baseline fertility testing
Even if you have no reason to suspect you will have difficulty conceiving via IVF, male and female fertility tests should be done to verify that there are no surprise issues to address and that you and your partner are good candidates.
☑ Meet with a genetic counselor
Many IVF clinics have in-house genetic counselors who can review your family history, help you process whether PGT is right for you, discuss any additional genetic testing that might benefit you, and answer your questions about embryo biopsy and testing.
☑ Undergo clinical genetic testing if necessary
Before PGT can be done, you (and sometimes your partner) will need to have DNA testing to identify your specific disease mutation(s). If you have not already had this testing, or if confirmation testing is required, a genetic counselor can help coordinate this testing.
☑ Schedule a consultation with a PGT laboratory
Regardless of the IVF clinic you choose to work with, a PGT laboratory will need to review your (and/or your partner’s) DNA test reports and ensure that an accurate PGT test can be created for your embryos based on your specific gene, mutation, and family structure.
☑ Coordinate any necessary genetic testing of family members
In some cases DNA samples, genetic test reports, and/or other medical records from you or your family members will also be needed by the PGT lab. Gathering this information early will help make the process as stress-free as possible for you and your family. DNA banking by which DNA is safely stored in a lab for later use can also be considered for family members who may be ill or aging.
While the timeline can vary widely from case to case, without advance planning the process typically takes about 3 to 9 months from initiation of IVF/PGT to achieving a pregnancy. Getting started on the steps above will allow you and your partner to jump start the process and help identify any unforeseen medical or technical obstacles. Your genetic counselor can be a valuable resource to guide you through these steps.
Emily is a board-certified clinical genetic counselor and Director of the ORM Genomics program. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and her Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling at the Medical College of Virginia. She has been a clinical genetic counselor for 18 years, during which she has counseled thousands of patients to help them make informed choices about prenatal and preimplantation testing. She is actively involved in the genetic and family history screening of egg donors and prospective parents at ORM. Emily has a passion for helping patients and providers navigate the increasingly complex world of reproductive genomics and enjoys working with the ORM team to provide compassionate, individualized care for each patient. Her professional interests include the genetic causes of infertility, carrier screening, egg and sperm donor screening, prenatal diagnosis, and ethical issues in preimplantation genetic testing.