During consultations at fertility clinics, most people often inquire about their reproductive health, “Can infertility be genetic?”
Discovering infertility can be an emotionally challenging experience for anyone. But, the dedicated team at Dr Sodhi’s Health Care and IVF Centre, Mohali, Punjab, India, is here to support you throughout your fertility journey. In this guide, we’ll delve into the fundamental genetic factors contributing to infertility.
Genetic Factors Behind Male And Female Infertility
Traditionally, fertility and genetics were considered as distinct areas, primarily addressed when couples had a family history of inherited genetic conditions. But now, with the evolution of science and technology, a lot of research is happening on the genetic factors in fertility. In the majority of cases, this can be the reason behind failed IVF cycles.
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Couples experiencing infertility can often be associated with genetic factors. From inherited chromosomal abnormalities to gene mutations, both males and females have different outcomes from both these factors. Here is how genetic factor affcets fertility:
- Abnormalities in the genes of a male, female or both can cause infertility such as implantation failure or miscarriage. It can also cause child birth defects.
- There are three categories of genetic abnormalities that can impact the development of an embryo: Chromosomal abnormalities, Single gene disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, and Genomic imprinting disorders.
- Certain genetic disorders can lead to sperm abnormalities in males, while genetic conditions in females can give rise to ovulation difficulties, ultimately leading to infertility in affected individuals.
Genetic counselling is available at Dr Sodhi’s Health Care Multispeciality Hospital and IVF Center to provide support so you can make an informed decision.
Also, fertility specialists in Mohali try to avoid the effects of gene disorders through preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) during IVF procedures. What is PGT?
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) is a medical procedure used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to assess the genetic makeup of embryos before they are implanted in the uterus. It involves the following types of testing:
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): It is a genetic testing procedure performed during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to assess the genetic characteristics of embryos before they are implanted in the uterus. PGD is primarily used to screen for specific genetic abnormalities or conditions, as well as to select embryos with desired genetic traits.
Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS): This is a laboratory technique used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to examine embryos for chromosomal abnormalities. PGS is primarily focused on assessing the overall chromosomal health of embryos and is often utilized to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy in cases of advanced maternal age, recurrent miscarriages, or multiple failed IVF attempts.
PGT-A (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy): This type of testing checks for numerical chromosomal abnormalities, such as aneuploidy, which is an abnormal number of chromosomes in an embryo. PGT-A helps identify embryos with the correct number of chromosomes, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy and reducing the risk of miscarriage.
PGT-M (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Disorders): PGT-M is used to detect specific genetic mutations or single-gene disorders that a couple may carry, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or Huntington’s disease. It allows for the selection of embryos that do not carry the specific genetic mutation, reducing the risk of passing on the disorder to the offspring.
PGT-SR (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Structural Rearrangements): PGT-SR is utilized when one or both partners have structural chromosomal abnormalities, like translocations or inversions. This testing helps identify embryos with balanced chromosomal arrangements, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
PGT is a valuable tool for couples at risk of passing on genetic disorders to their children or for those who have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss or infertility. It enables the selection of embryos with a higher likelihood of being genetically healthy, improving the chances of a successful pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child.
Fertility specialists in Mohali try to avoid the effects of gene disorders through preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) during IVF procedures.
Is There Genetic Blood Test?
A genetic blood test before fertility treatment is commonly performed to assess the genetic health of prospective parents. This test is typically referred to as “genetic carrier screening” or “preconception genetic testing.”
A blood sample is taken from each partner, and their DNA is analyzed to identify any known genetic mutations associated with inherited disorders. The test typically looks for mutations linked to conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and many others, depending on the test panel used.
What are other possible reasons for infertility?
Several factors can contribute to infertility, and in women, one prevalent factor is the presence of ovulation disorders. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that can disrupt the ovulation process. Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in the development of PCOS, and it tends to be hereditary. Therefore, if your mother had PCOS, you may have a higher risk of experiencing it as well, potentially affecting your fertility.
Infertility can also arise from other issues affecting the reproductive organs, such as blocked fallopian tubes, which may be caused by conditions like endometriosis (a condition where tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside the uterus) or pelvic infections. Uterine fibroids, which are growths in the uterine muscle, can also contribute to infertility. It’s worth noting that both endometriosis and uterine fibroids can have a hereditary component, running in families.
In women, age is also an important factor in infertility. The probability of a woman getting pregnant during a specific menstrual cycle starts to decrease as she enters her early 30s. As she continues to age, not only does the quantity of her eggs diminish, but the proportion of abnormal eggs also increases, consequently elevating the risk of miscarriages and the occurrence of Down syndrome. Specific genetic conditions, such as fragile X syndrome, are associated with the premature depletion of eggs and are frequently linked to a family history. For men, infertility is most commonly attributed to the quantity and quality of sperm.