IVF for PGD: Egg retrieval and genetic testing results

6to10cells

Since my last post, we froze some embryos, ran the SportingLife 10K and redecorated our bedroom. For now, I’m back with the update on our IVF cycle.

In my last IVF update, I shared that I was getting set to take the trigger shot and go in for the egg retrieval. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the egg retrieval was no big deal. I was given Fentanyl through an IV and then went in for the procedure. I was awake but slightly foggy. I didn’t feel much pain, just a bit of discomfort.

Leading up to the egg retrieval, we were told that we could expect getting around 10 eggs but they’d grab whatever they could. They managed to find 17! Knowing that they’d drop off at high rates, it felt good to start with that higher number. Every morning, the embryologist would give me a call with an update. It was kind of fun to wait for this call around 10 AM everyday. The downside is that they’re never going to call with an update that you’ve miraculously gotten more, you just hope they don’t drop off in large numbers.

The afternoon of the retrieval, they fertilized the eggs, and the next day I received a call that 16/17 of the eggs were mature, and 13/16 were successfully fertilized. By Day 2, there were 12/13. Those 12/13 also made it to Day 3. There was no update on Day 4. Since we were doing IVF for PGD, the objective was to biopsy and test Day 5 or 6 blastocysts. The number of fertilized eggs that make it to that stage can be pretty low, but I had youth on my side, so we were hopeful! The encouraging part is that those that make it to Day 5 or 6 are much more likely to result in successful pregnancy further down the line. It was still a bit of a bummer when these little tiny, 2-6 cell things stopped doing their cell division thing.

On Day 5, 5/12 were ready to be biopsied and on Day 6, 3/7 were biopsied. So of our initial 17 eggs, 13 were fertilized, and 8 made it to biopsy. The biopsy samples were sent off to a lab in the US, where they’d developed tests specific to us using genetic samples from Mike, me and my dad to screen for the BRCA 1 gene mutation that my mom passed on to me.

Each little blastocyst had a 50% chance of being positive for BRCA 1 mutation. On top of screening for BRCA 1, we also did PGS, which screens for a whole bunch of chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s Syndrome. Since embryos with chromosomal abnormalities usually won’t result in a successful pregnancy, the idea was to find BRCA negative embryos that were also chromosomally normal. On average, they expect to detect chromosomal abnormalities among about 40% of those tested, with that risk increasing with age. Once you find out these stats…how few fertilized eggs make it past the first few days, even without any fertility issues, it’s a wonder that anyone manages to get pregnant at all. But with 7+ billion people on earth, I guess it somehow works out!

We had to wait about 2 weeks to get the PGD genetic testing results, and during that period I felt curious but not stressed or nervous. I had been feeling a bit stressed out before, wondering how many would make it to Day 5 or 6. If we didn’t have many, we’d have to consider doing an additional cycle first, since the cost of genetic testing is so high, so it makes sense to test as many as possible at once. So that’s the question I was mostly going back and forth on.

When we found out we had 8, we decided we were cool with sending those off for testing without getting another batch. Based on the 40% and 50%, I was anticipating that we’d find out there were 1-3 healthy (BRCA negative + chromosomally good) embryos depending on how much overlap there was between those two risks. So I was pretty happy when I got the call that we had 4. So now our potential future babies are chilling in the freezer. My friend pointed out that they’re quadruplets since technically they were all conceived at the same time! Haha. I bet they’re so cute with all their tiny cells.

Oh, by the way, IVF helped me quit coffee! On the day of my egg retrieval, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, including my morning coffee. Thanks to the Fentanyl they gave me, I didn’t experience the usual coffee withdrawal headache and just decided to go with it and haven’t had a drop of caffeine since (over 3 weeks now!). Want to quit coffee? Try Fentanyl. Just kidding. Please don’t.

9 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing about PGD and IVF. I carry a brca1 mutation and after my preventative double mastectomy 2 years ago, I froze two rounds (40 total) eggs. Then last fall at 32 , my ob oncologist and I made the call to prevenitivly remove my Fallopian tubes then, and ultimately have a full hysterectomy at 35. So now I’m putting those frozen eggs to use with the plan for PGD and implantation in August! I’m doing my mock IVF run this month and have really been trying to read-up on what this stage and the next have been like for other women who worry about passing the mutation on to their children. BRCA is a tricky world to navigate on its own, but I’ve had an especially hard time finding blogs and stories related to PDG for screening out the mutation. So again, thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you well!

    • Hi Robyn! Thanks for sharing your journey. 40 eggs! That’s a great place to start 🙂
      I’d asked about the fallopian tube removal and was told they don’t really feel it’s necessary before the hysterectomy at 35. I do trust my drs, but when already taking precautions, it feels like I should be taking them all! How was your experience with that?
      Best of luck with this next exciting phase!!

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