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PGS Greatly Increasing IVF Success Rates

New technologies are increasing IVF success rates like never before. According to Dr. Robert E. Anderson, Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist at Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine, preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) has made “incredible results” possible. PGS is the process of screening embryos to ensure they have the right number of chromosomes and to identify any structural abnormalities in the chromosomes.

Data from PGS biopsies at Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine have shown that the percentage of abnormal eggs is much higher than was previously suspected:

  • In women 30 to 34, 75% of eggs are abnormal; 25% are normal
  • In women 35 to 37, 83% are abnormal; 17% are normal
  • In women 39 to 40 age group, only 9% are normal; 91% are abnormal
  • Women above age 40, greater than 91% of eggs are abnormal

“Now that we have extensive experience biopsying thousands of embryos we know that the way they look doesn’t necessarily tell us whether they’re genetically normal or not,” Anderson says.

In the past, when pregnancy didn’t result from seemingly normal embryos, it was assumed genetics was the culprit, but it couldn’t be proven, Anderson says. PGS allows the practice to choose and transfer genetically healthy embryos. However, the fertility clinic lab has to do three things really well in order to have good success, he adds:

  • Consistently grow good day 5 and day 6 embryos
  • Have the ability to biopsy embryos without harming them
  • Have the ability to do really good vitrification

If a lab can do all of those things, you can have very high success rates, Anderson says.

As a result, almost 100 percent of IVF cycles at Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine use PGS, and they do single embryo transfer with very, very few exceptions as a result.

Additionally, Anderson says he does not do fresh embryo transfers. “When we first started doing trophectoderm biopsies, we thought like everyone else, it’s better to put in fresh embryos.” But there were patients who couldn’t have a fresh embryo transfer due to hyperstimulation or issues with the endometrium. “So we froze them all, transferred them the next month as a frozen cycle, and realized that those patients had higher pregnancy rates.”

“It’s simply a matter of taking your normal embryo, and then in the second phase we concentrate on the endometrial development -- we don’t have any time pressure to get your lining where it’s supposed to be, and then put in your frozen embryo. The pregnancy rates are truly astounding,” Anderson says.

“I’ve been in this business 28 years, and when I started the failure rate is what our success rate is now. It’s amazing. It almost sounds too good to be true.”

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