India’s normal fertility rate (GFR) has fallen by 20% over the past decade and one in 15 Indian couples struggle with infertility, however, there is a lot of stigma attached to infertility, which creates barriers for couples seeking help. WHO defines infertility as, “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse.”
The good news is that advances in assisted reproductive technology can greatly help couples struggling with infertility achieve their dreams of parenthood. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Clinical Director of Nova IVF Fertility in Mumbai, Dr. Sulaba Arora shared, “One of the popular and widely recognized fertility treatments is IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). Advances in this process can improve the success rate of fertility treatments and reduce any chance of complications. For example, IVF combined with tests such as PGT-A (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies) can detect chromosomal abnormalities in embryos before embryo implantation. Such tests are particularly beneficial for women of advanced maternal age, as the incidence of abnormal fetuses increases with advancing age. He suggested:
- Women can choose to freeze their eggs
Priyanka Chopra recently opened up about freezing her eggs on the recommendation of her gynecologist mother. Egg freezing is a highly reliable process because the technology has advanced over time. As the method of freezing and thawing the eggs has improved, the chances of spoiling the eggs are less. It is highly recommended for women battling cancer who want to preserve their fertility. In recent times, social egg freezing is becoming popular where women freeze their eggs if they are not ready for parenthood. This can be for various reasons such as their career, education, or not having found a partner yet.
- Better chances with frozen embryo transfer
The possibility of frozen embryo implantation has increased over the years. The success rate of frozen embryos can be high because they can be implanted in the womb when the woman’s body is more receptive and because vitrification (rapid freezing) techniques have advanced significantly.
Earlier IVF was usually associated with multiple pregnancies because many embryos were transferred during treatment. Nowadays fertility specialists prefer to transfer a healthy embryo. Generally, in the past, the second or third day after egg collection has been used for embryo transfer after IVF or ICSI. However, due to advances in IVF laboratories, we are now able to culture embryos for five or six days. Embryos now have more opportunities to demonstrate their potential for development. Before 5 or 6 days, some embryos stop their development. This “natural selection” allows the embryologist to find and select the best embryo(s) for embryo transfer. Multiple births can also lead to health complications for both mother and baby, so single embryo transfer is ideal.
- Chromosomal testing of the fetus to reduce the chance of abnormalities
Fetal chromosomal testing is called PGT-A (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies). PGT-A may help select chromosomally normal embryos for transfer because women over 35 years of age have a higher risk of birth abnormalities. It also helps patients with a history of miscarriage that may be caused by chromosomal abnormalities.