Critical Questions: Infertility

New techniques have been developed to increase the chances of having a healthy baby. Dr. Ilan Tur-Kaspa, founder and director of the Institute for Human Reproduction (IHR), points out that when couples undergo in vitro fertilization, a procedure called preimplantation genetic diagnosis PGD can test the embryo for genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia that one or both parents have been shown to carry. The procedure makes it possible to select a normal embryo to implant in the woman’s uterus. Preimplantation screening can also be done on all 24 chromosomes to detect abnormalities that might cause conditions such as Down syndrome. The chromosome screening can also be done to select the gender of the baby.

“This screening can help to improve IVF because we can avoid multiple pregnancies by implanting just one embryo and prevent IVF treatment failures and repeated miscarriages,” says Tur-Kaspa, who is also the director of the Clinical IVF-PGD Program at the Reproductive Genetics Institute. Anything we do in the lab may be risky for the baby, but we have seen more than a thousand babies born with PGD and haven’t seen any minor or major malformations.”

Dr. Tur-Kaspa has compiled the following list of critical questions to ask your fertility specialist.

  • What tests should we take to find out the cause of our infertility?
  • Does stress affect my infertility?
  • What do fertility drugs do?
  • Should we do in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
  • Can we test all 24 chromosomes to have a healthy baby?
  • Can I freeze my eggs to preserve my fertility?
  • If needed, how do I find an egg donor? Sperm donor? Surrogate mother?
  • Does my insurance cover fertility treatments? How much might it cost me?
  • How many of the treatment options have you performed, and what is your success rate?