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Embryos: from blastocyst to PGT-A (genetic testing)

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

The the day after my retrieval, in the afternoon, I got the call I'd been waiting for.

Fertilization - day 1 post retrieval

From 18 eggs harvested, 16 were mature and then 14 fertilized. Fertilization is when they inject a single sperm into the egg becoming the beginnings of an #embryo! I was very happy with these results, honestly before the retrieval, I expected to get about 5 eggs, so 18>16>14 was super results!!

From these numbers, the 'typical' odds they give you is that about 50% of the fertilized will make it through the next stage. But with age could be slightly lower. BUT with 14 fertilized eggs, I was very optimistic! I'd be happy with 4-5 making it to the next stage!

Embryos or no embryos - Blastocyst, that is the question.

Now the part no-one prepares you for. Remember the two week wait after an IUI? Well it is just like, but instead of waiting for a positive pregnancy test, you are waiting to see if there is any chance at all if you can even try and get pregnant. We wait for blastocyst results. This is to see how many of my 14 embryo's survive & thrive. Or become embabies as some like to call them.

Not my embryo! Borrowed from google

In a petri dish in the lab, the embryo divides and multiplies its cells over 5 to 7 days to become a #blastocyst.

Embryos must survive to this stage of development to be able to use them to try and get pregnant (by transfer).

Blastocyst Results

My results came through 8 days later, I was waiting and waiting and because my day 5 fell over a weekend, I had to wait until the Monday for my results, urgh like it isn't hard enough.

The doctor called me. I had 2 embryos fully form and survive all the way to full embryos. Wow, that was like getting a kick in the teeth. But the doctor kept saying 'you only need one'. I wish they wouldn't say dumb shit like that. I know they are trying to give you hope, but it is still super disappointing, from 18 eggs to TWO embryos. I got this call while I was in my office, I had to go out back and cry and even though 2 is better than none, it still sucks.

The reason getting only 2 embryos is so dishearnighting for me, is that it doesn't stop there. There is more waiting to do. Due to my age (over 40) and already a low chance at good quality eggs>embryos, I was also choosing to do genetic testing of the embryos.

PGT-A: Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies.

This genetic testing is a comprehensive screening on an embryos. This test reveals the number and structure of chromosomes in each embryo. A 'normal' embryo has 23 pairs of chromosomes. But with age, the 'normal' rate declines rapidly the older you get.

A normal embryo has a MUCH higher rate of successful pregnancy especially in older women, giving the best chance at a healthy and successful to term pregnancy. The goal is to have a normal embryo with the right about of chromosomes to increase pregnancy chances and reduce miscarriage risks

As you can see from the chart below, as you get older, the number of ABNORMAL embryos increased dramatically. So as you can imagine, having only 2 embryos to send for PGT testing is not great odds. When on average 65% of embryos that are tested from women over the age of 40 are considered not good enough for implantation and successful pregnancy.

Keep in mind that this testing is OPTIONAL and not necessary. But for the best chance to carry to term, many doctors will recommend this once you turn 40.

The clinic sent my samples off from my 2 little embryos, which are now frozen. The genetic testing is done elsewhere, it is NOT covered by health insurance. It costs about $250 per egg to be tested. The only time I was slightly happy about 2 embryos...

It takes about 10 days to get results. I got the call today, 5th June.

I got ZERO normal embryos.

What does that mean?

It means that this round of IVF was a bust. No embryos = no baby.

My embryos were missing quite a few chromosomes and they were far from normal. I started second guessing if I should have done the testing and just tried my luck with untested embryos. My doctor assured me that from the results, it was most likely it wouldn't even implant if I'd tried and if it did, very likely to result in a miscarriage :(

She asked what I wanted to do, I didn't hesitate to say 'let's try again'.

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