Why have preconception genetic screening?
At our Virginia fertility center, we offer our patients preconception genetic screening because we want them to feel confident in proceeding with fertility treatment. Unfortunately, hopeful parents can carry severe genetic diseases and have no idea that they are at-risk of passing them on. Not only can preconception genetic screening provide notice about these devastating diseases, it can also help shape fertility treatment going forward.
How preconception genetic screening works
As its name suggests, we perform preconception genetic screening at our Virginia fertility center before you attempt to become pregnant. It begins with our providers taking a thorough family medical history and tracing the ethnic background of both hopeful parents.
This information is important because some genetically inherited diseases are more common among people with certain ethnic backgrounds. For example, although anyone can be born with sickle cell disease, it is more common in people with African ancestry.
Based on your medical history and background, a geneticist will recommend which genetic markers the testing should look for. Then, the test proceeds as follows.
- We take a blood sample from each hopeful parent and send it to a genetics laboratory.
- The laboratory isolates the DNA from the sample and examines it for genetic markers that indicate that the parent is a carrier of a disease.
- Based on the test results for each parent, a genetic consultant will discuss the likelihood that their offspring will have the genetic disease.
Preconception genetic screening is optional for hopeful parents. Some parents choose not to do it, while others find it to be another helpful source of information for family-building decisions.
A first step in fertility
Based on the results of preconception genetic screening, patients at our Virginia fertility center can make choices about how to proceed. Where the risks are minimal, they may immediately proceed with fertility treatment. In other cases, our providers may recommend preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGT-M) during a round of IVF to avoid passing on a genetic disease.
We respect the personal nature of these decisions and aim to help hopeful parents make fully informed choices. To learn more about preconception genetic screening and genetic risk factors, schedule an appointment.