Tag Archives: pgt

Is IVF more boy-friendly?

We did genetic testing along with our IVF treatment, so we were able to see the sex of all of our embryos.  We didn’t WANT to know before transferring because we wanted it to be a surprise and we made that clear to our doctor.  He forgot.

We had 11 eggs that fertilized, but only 5 made it the 5 days after insemination to the testing day.  We found this out the morning of our embryo transfer, 6 days after egg retrieval/insemination, but it came with some bittersweet news.  First of all, our dumb dumb Dodo doctor came in that morning and exclaimed that he had some “great news.”  Out of 11 eggs, we were left with 2 healthy embryos.  Both male.  2.  We were super excited because we both wanted a boy, but there was also that twinge of sadness from finding out much earlier than (and not how) we wanted what the sex of our baby would be, and also knowing that we didn’t even have the option of having a girl from this round of IVF.

Even more concerning was that 3 of the 5 embryos were abnormal, and ALL FIVE were male.  We had no female embryos that made it to testing.  Which of course raises the complex question; What the fuck?

I actually don’t think we got much information at all about the genetic testing.  I’m not even sure if we got a physical report about their findings, we were just told that day that 3 of the 5 were “abnormal.”  I don’t know if they even know more than that or not.  I’d be interested in hearing from any of you fellow IVFers who also did testing if you ever got any more information than just normal/abnormal.  It seems sort of vague to me.  Could “abnormal” be anything ranging from minor to severe?  Who knows?  But it does make the prospect of trying on our own that much more daunting.

It would seem something is going on with our female embryos.  So while I was thrilled with the outcome of the IVF and ACTUALLY BEING PREGNANT!!  I was also quietly mourning the possibility that we had just been handed yet another obstacle and told yet another thing my body cannot do; make a female baby.

I’ve since read that IVF can be tough on female embryos, which are more fragile.  Especially with genetic testing, having to last outside the womb for 5 days is not an easy task (I can relate).  But this seems to only account for a very small margin, about 1-2% in favor of male embryos.

BUT, there’s another factor that I think is terribly overlooked when it comes to male favorability in IVF.  There are are many different protocols and techniques to IVF.  Over the several years of researching it and actually going through it myself I’ve spoken with many other women who have also gone through it.  None of us had the same exact experience.  One technique which can differ is the use of ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) vs the dish method.

In the dish method an egg is introduced to a petri dish of sperm, the same way it would be inside the womb, so nature can take it’s course.  In ICSI, under direct microscopic vision, an embryologist chooses a single sperm and injects it into the egg.  ICSI is typically used for male infertility, when there are few sperm or the quality of them is low.  Our IVF clinic uses ICSI across the board, we did not get a choice in whether or not to use it.  I believe this is because of the genetic testing.

Fertilization in a petri dish, just like in natural insemination, requires interaction between the sperm and cumulus cells that surround the egg.  There is a need to remove these cumulus cells in order to perform preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), and therefor it is left far less capable of being fertilized spontaneously.  Hence the need for further intervention (ICSI).

ICSI does have a higher pregnancy success rate, but you are also eliminating natural selection to some degree.  Eggs have ways of determining the best sperm and keeping those that have defects from passing through.  In ICSI, you have an embryologist basically eyeballing sperm and hand selecting one, and forcing it into the egg.  I believe they look for things like size and swimming strength, which could be why there is a higher occurrence of males?  Just a thought.

I’m totally fascinated by the science that brought us our baby, and I’m so grateful for it’s existence!  I could happily read about IVF all day, if I wasn’t busy chasing around the product of it in the form of my 10 month old who is faster on all 4s than I am on my 2s.  I would like to know the reason we had all male embryos, but it’s more due to my curiosity and thirst for knowledge when it comes to this stuff than anything else.  It would also be nice to know that the cause is not an indication of something unhealthy that I may be passing down to my son.  I would LOVE to have a daughter some day, but am perfectly happy being a #boymom forever.

 

 

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Ketchup

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I took a little break from blogging for the last couple weeks.  Today I am 3dp6dt!  Here are my updates!

Retrieval:

I don’t know why I was so worried about this.  Actually, I take that back.  I know EXACTLY why I worried.  The thought of a foot-long needle going through my vagina, THAT was worrisome.  I was hoping I would be out cold, but my nurse explained to me that I would be under “conscious sedation” which was explained to me as “you won’t be able to move or speak and you won’t remember a thing.”  Uhhhhhh.  Nuh.  That does not sound right.  Everyone assured me it would be fine.  Going into the procedure, I was really trying to be brave, but I am a pansy.  The Dr. came in and asked me if I had any questions and I said “Uh, yes.  I’m concerned about this ‘conscious sedation’ stuff.  I’ve heard I won’t be able to move or speak, but I’ve heard nothing about not feeling it, and all I can think of is that Metallica video.”  He laughed.  I was glad he got the reference.  He assured me I would be “out” and wouldn’t feel a thing.

Long story short, he was right.  Next thing I knew, I was waking up.  Had a little bit of mild cramping, but totally livable.  I slept the whole rest of the day.

The Dr told me when I woke up that he retrieved 11 eggs.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this number.  I’m embarrassed to say that because I know so many women who get less, but I’ve also seen women get numbers in the 20s and 30s.  And I just thought that because my ovaries were great and functioning normally and had nothing to do with our infertility, I would be in those high numbers.

Then the next morning my nurse called to tell me that out of the 11 eggs, only 6 had fertilized.  We still had 5 days to make it until the PDG testing, and I knew that with each day as well as with the testing, those numbers were pretty surely going to continue to go down.  They also told me that we wouldn’t have any more updates on the embryos until the day of our transfer, which seems kind of torturous.  Seems like a pretty shitty day to be getting bad news, if there is any.  I tried my best to keep my mind off of it, but who was I kidding?

Transfer Day!:

This day was pretty bittersweet.  I had my acupuncturist, who I love, there working with me.  She covered me in warm sheets and put a heating lamp on my feet and did her thing turning me into Hellraiser with her tiny needles.  She then massaged me and even stuck a few needles in my husband to relax him, too.  It was a great way to start off the day.  Then the Dr. came in.  I should mention that in one of our appointments with him last week, I told him very specifically that we did NOT want to know the gender of the embryos, we at least wanted that surprise.  He totally understood and he said he would put it in our notes to make sure no one “spills the beans.”  Imagine my dismay when the first thing he says when we walks in the room transfer day is “Well, I have some great news!  You have 2 healthy boy embryos!”  My heart fucking stopped.  Did he seriously just say that?  I looked at my husband who I could instantly tell was pissed as well and I just tried to smooth the situation.  I said, “It’s ok, it’s ok.  A boy!”  But my husband said to the doctor, “wait, so you are telling us the sex now?  We said we didn’t want that.”  The doctor looked embarrassed and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  But there was nothing that could be done about it now and I just had to focus on being happy and ok with it.

I do believe everything happens for a reason, though.  Since the boy cats were already out of the bag, I took a look at our PDG testing results.  Very interesting.  Only 5 embryos were tested so I guess 1 of the 6 didn’t make it to day five for testing.  But here’s the thing that struck me.  All 5 were male.  Half of my eggs didn’t fertilize, statistically that would about the amount of female sperm used to inseminate them.

It scares me that we may never be able to have a girl.  I am totally grateful for these 2 healthy boys, but having a girl at some point is also important to me.  I don’t even know if this is something we can test for, because I don’t know what it is.  I’m wondering if there is something genetic going on here that we don’t know about.  I don’t even know what questions to ask or who to ask them to.  I feel lost and I certainly don’t want to turn to Google and drive myself insane.

It was kind of a shame that there was kind of a dark cloud over such a happy day, but sometimes that is life.  We chose to implant 1 embryo and freeze the other.  It was a surreal experience.  I got to watch this little guy enter my body through the ultrasound.  He was in a little rice shaped vehicle that they use to transport them I guess.  A little rice rocket, if you will.  That made me super emotional.  I had been trying to hold in tears of sadness from the moment the dr came in with his “great news” but the second I saw that little spec enter my body, tears of joy came pouring out of me.

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