4 Alternative Procedures to Embryo Grading

Because embryo grading involves discarding excess embryos and is tantamount to the scientific selection of the “best” embryos most likely to succeed, you may be looking for alternative procedures, despite the increased chance of success that grading provides. If so, consider the following:

1. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

If you object to embryo grading for ethical reasons, or you don't like the idea of so much scientific interference in the conception process, perhaps the most suitable if you have difficulty conceiving is gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). GIFT does not involve any grading whatsoever. Instead, your fertility specialist will harvest multiple eggs from you and then combine them with your donor's or partner's sperm. This sperm/egg mixture (gamete) will then be immediately implanted into one of your fallopian tubes via a small incision in your abdomen. Fertilization is then left to take place naturally in the body, in the fallopian tubes, where it typically occurs during natural impregnation. However, one drawback of this procedure is that it has about the lowest rate of success of fertility treatments of its type (about 24%).

2. Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is quite similar to GIFT, with the sole difference being that zygotes (fertilized eggs--not quite changed into embryos yet) will be implanted into your fallopian tubes at a later time in place of gametes. ZIFT has a slightly greater rate of success than GIFT (29% to 24%). However, while it does not involve embryo grading, it usually involves something similar: zygote grading, in which the zygotes that seem the most likely to succeed will be the ones that will be implanted. You can request, though, that no such distinction be made, although you should be aware that some zygotes may still be discarded.

3. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In vitro fertilization (IVF) typically goes hand-in-hand with embryo grading. IVF has a success rate of about 31% and part of this success rate is due to grading. During IVF, your eggs will be fertilized in a lab and then monitored as they grow into embryos. Your fertility specialist will then grade the embryos, determining which two to six embryos seem most likely to succeed when implanted into your uterus via the vagina. You can request that this differentiation not be made, although you may undermine the success of the procedure. There will still likely be discarded embryos regardless.

4. Fertility Drugs

Most fertility treatments, including the most invasive ones, are used in combination with fertility drugs. However, if you have difficulty conceiving due to an ovulation disorder, hormonal treatment may be enough for you to ovulate more successfully in order to become pregnant. This will bypass most scientific interference and make grading entirely unnecessary.

Embryo grading is often used in conjunction with other fertility treatments, but you can opt out of this process if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Just remember that you may face a decreased chance of successful pregnancy if you opt out of grading.

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