Embryo genetic testing before IVF: do women regret it or find the information valuable?

An image to illustrate IVF, which is sometimes preceded by embryo genetic testing
© iStock/Christoph-Burgstedt

Northwestern University has studied women who choose to have embryo genetic testing before IVF, and whether they regret the decision or find the information valuable.

The lead study author Dr. Kara Goldman said: “The most common reason for patients to drop out of IVF treatment before they are successful is the psychological burden. Genetic testing of embryos is an area where we have thousands of patients using this technology and no one has studied the psychological burden of it.” The research team asked women who had embryo genetic testing before IVF treatment whether they were glad or regretted the procedure.

Were the women glad to have chosen embryo genetic testing?

Their results suggested that the women were glad to have embryo genetic testing, even with a negative outcome. Goldman commented: “The traditional practice of IVF involves transferring an embryo, with an unknown likelihood of implantation, and finding out on the other end whether it will implant or result in a healthy pregnancy. We discovered that even after a negative outcome, most women found the information gained from embryo testing to be valuable for reproductive planning.”

Goldman added: “Older women understand their time is limited. If they lose three months because of a miscarriage, that’s a lot of time. Most patients like the idea of having as much information in front of them as possible, so they don’t have to go through the very difficult waiting period between the embryo transfer and the pregnancy test if the embryo wouldn’t have resulted in pregnancy.”

The future of mental health services for patients with abnormal embryos

“This study identified where we need to better help patients in terms of mental health services,” according to Goldman. “We need to make sure we have our psychologists and doctors supporting patients when they have abnormal embryos and are preparing to make their subsequent treatment decisions.

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