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What Is Preimplantation Genetic Screening?

Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) is a method of screening abnormal chromosomes on the embryo before they are transferred to the uterus for fertilization. It is often done in a lab using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Unlike Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which is done when one or both parents have a known genetic abnormality, preimplantation genetic screening involves testing the embryos from presumed chromosomally normal genetic parents to determine aneuploidy.

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is of the utmost importance because many embryos with chromosomal abnormalities hardly result in pregnancies. Besides, even when an embryo with an abnormal chromosome results in pregnancy, it can easily end in a miscarriage. The whole essence of this type of screening is therefore to make it possible for women to get pregnant through IVF and have healthy children with low risks of genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome. Of course, this test also looks out for those other abnormal chromosomes called translocations, that can cause growth or certain organ dysfunctions in children.

For the screening to be effective, one or more cells from each embryo are sent to the lab for testing. The unhealthy embryos are often discarded whereas the genetically healthy ones are transferred to the uterus for a possibility to attach to the lining and produce a pregnancy.

It is apparent that all women have some eggs that are chromosomally abnormal, just like all men have some sperms that are also chromosomally abnormal. The percentage of embryos that are abnormal can be further affected by many other factors, like age and the health history of the parents. Therefore, to ensure that healthy children are born, preimplantation genetic screening is recommended for parents opting for IVF.

Preimplantation genetic screening is particularly recommended for anyone who has or is a carrier of a known genetic disorder. However, it is also recommended for women with recurrent miscarriages, multiple failed fertility treatments and for older women whose ovaries do not work as expected.

Overcoming Miscarriage

A miscarriage refers to the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy within the first 20 weeks. This common form of pregnancy loss can result in both emotional and physical pain. Although everyone processes such a loss differently, women who have had a miscarriage suffer from a range of emotional issues including sadness, anger, guilt, grief, jealousy towards other parents as well as an intense feeling of loneliness.

An estimated 10% to 20%1 of all pregnancies actually end up in early miscarriage, but most women still remain inconsolable after going through it.

Aside from the emotional impact, a miscarriage can also cause some physical problems. The body usually needs time to recover after a miscarriage and this is often dependent on how far along the pregnancy was. While some women may miscarry in the first two months of pregnancy without even realizing they were pregnant, a miscarriage that happens after two months generally requires medical treatment. Doctors are likely to prescribe medications that can either be inserted in the vaginal or consumed orally to help the body pass out any remaining tissues. Of course, the passage of this tissue may not only be painful but could also be extremely emotional for some women.

Doctors may also conduct a follow-up ultrasound to ensure that all the tissues have passed from your system, in a bid to avoid complications. Going through these can be extremely devastating, but the good news is that there are some steps that can be taken to overcome a miscarriage:
• Express your emotions
Having a miscarriage is like losing a loved one. Obviously, it comes with different kinds of emotions such as anger, sadness and despair. Women are however encouraged to express their feelings so they can get help.

• Get help from friends and loved ones
When you are grieving the loss of a pregnancy, you might find it hard to follow your normal schedule. But when you seek and rely on support from your friends and loved ones, you can be sure to get help from them on things like house chores and taking care of your pets and immediate family.

• Join a support group
There are many online support groups for people who have had a miscarriage. While you have friends and family with you, joining such groups will go a long way to ease your pain as you would connect with others who have gone through the same experience.

• Talk to a therapist
Another way of overcoming a miscarriage is to talk to a grief counselor, who could probably help you navigate your loss. Remember your long-term recovery depends greatly on your mental and emotional wellbeing. A grief therapist will guide you into bouncing back to an emotionally and mentally stable state.

1) Miscarriage. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) website. Last accessed April 22, 2021.

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