How DNA affects the fertility journey


To mark DNA Day (25th April), Dr Suvir Venkataraman, general manager of Harley Street Fertility Clinic, outlines the benefits of pre-implantation genetic testing

DNA. We all have it. But what is it? What does it do? How does it affect pregnancy success? To understand the important role that DNA plays in fertility, we must first understand how it works. Simply put, DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – is a material that carries all the information needed to determine how a living organism will develop. This information is broken down into units known as genes, each of which specifies an individual trait. For example, there is a gene that defines what eye colour you have, and another that determines your hair colour. Our DNA is contained within structures called chromosomes. These come in pairs – one inherited from the mother, one from the father. Healthy humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

How does DNA affect my fertility journey?
Perhaps you have had reoccurring miscarriages or recurrent implantation failure? A reason for this might be genetic abnormalities in the embryo. Pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) provides the opportunity to test your embryos for these genetic abnormalities. PGT, which enables a fertility clinic to transfer only those embryos with no identifiable problems, has been shown to improve pregnancy success rates and lower the chances of miscarriage.

Harley Street Fertility Clinic

Harley Street Fertility Clinic

What is PGT-A testing?
The most common abnormality we see is an embryo that develops with the wrong number of chromosomes – a condition known as aneuploidy. Pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) is a method used to screen embryos for the correct number of chromosomes (euploid embryos). PGT-A is often recommended for patients with recurrent IVF failure or unexplained recurrent miscarriage because it is thought that such patients are at increased risk of producing embryos with chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploid embryos).

What other types of genetic testing are available?
PGT-SR and PGT-M are used to screen embryos when a couple is deemed to be at risk of passing on a specific genetic disease to their child. PGT-SR looks for structural rearrangement and PGT-M is able to test for monogenetic diseases.

At Harley Street Fertility Clinic we offer a comprehensive suite of testing options, including PGT-A, PGT-SR and PGT-M.