It is estimated that genetics are a contributing factor in up to 10 percent of couples who experience infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, so it stands to reason that genetic testing has the potential to help many of those couples in their quest to have a family.
Genetic testing examines DNA, which has been called the “chemical database” that carries instructions for the body’s functions and can reveal gene changes that may cause illness or disease, including infertility.
Since both men and women can have fertility issues, they can all benefit from genetic testing. Choosing who should be tested is a decision that should be made in consultation with a genetic counselor and your fertility specialist.
Genetic testing for infertility can be indicated for a variety of reasons. Perhaps standard physical and lab tests have not found a cause for your infertility, or your currently infertility treatment is not working. If you’re starting a family at a later age, or you’ve been trying for a while without success, you may choose to undergo genetic testing to find out if there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Identifying a genetic cause for your infertility can help you make the right decision on how to proceed by choosing the treatments that are most likely to help and skipping those that won’t.
Additionally, genetic testing is advised before you have children if you or your partner has a family history of a genetic disorder, such as sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease or cystic fibrosis. Such testing can reveal if either or both of you carry a copy of an altered gene that would put a child at risk of developing the disorder.
Genetic testing is a highly personal decision – just like choosing to have children – and one that should be well informed. For some couples, the expense of genetic testing and potential privacy issues are major considerations. It’s also important to realize that while testing may identify a genetic factor that is contributing to your infertility, there is no guarantee that it will. If a genetic factor is identified, there may be other underlying causes of infertility as well. Knowing the cause of your infertility may not increase your chances of a successful pregnancy, and the test results may have implications for your life beyond fertility.
In conclusion, genetic testing is a state-of-the-art option for couples who are dealing with infertility. If you choose to use it, conferring closely with your genetic counselor and fertility specialist about the results of your tests may be an important step on your path to fertility.
If you’re interested in learning more about genetic testing, contact us.