DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid, and is the building blocks that make up our genes. Each gene tells our body how to grow and develop, and affects everything from our hair colour to our heart muscles. Each time our body creates a sperm or egg, it packages all of our DNA to be sent along to hopefully conceive a healthy child.
However, this process is not perfect, and changes to our DNA can impact many parts of this process - whether the sperm can meet the egg, whether an embryo can grow, and how the pregnancy develops. Testing the DNA of a potential parent or an embryo can give us important clues on what we might expect in terms of chances of a successful pregnancy, or whether the pregnancy could be affected by a genetic condition.
There are many types of genetic testing, depending on what you are hoping to learn. Sometimes at an early stage of a fertility journey, prospective parents might want to have “extended carrier screening,” which looks at hundreds of our genes to see if there is an increased chance of having a child with a genetic condition. This could be because they have a family history of a genetic condition, are considering treatment with the help of a sperm or egg donor, or just because they want to be more empowered about their genetic information.
Other people might be interested in a technology called Preimplantation Genetic Testing-Aneuploidy (PGT-A), which looks at the amount of DNA in an embryo. This can give us clues about which embryos are most likely to take as a healthy pregnancy to try to reduce the amount of time it takes to get pregnant, and hopefully reduce the chance of miscarriage due to genetic issues.
Genetic testing can also sometimes give us an explanation for why a person or couple has experienced fertility issues, such as azoospermia (no sperm), premature menopause, or multiple pregnancy losses. This can help doctors provide a person with the best advice on the options available.
No matter what we find in a person’s DNA, our team are here to support you every step of the way. We celebrate DNA in all shapes and sizes, and are looking forward to answering any genetic questions to help you feel empowered during your fertility journey.