Patients are used to spending time with their doctor while undergoing infertility treatment, but an equally vital part of the treatment process goes on behind closed doors in the embryology laboratory.
“What happens in the IVF lab, in a nut shell, is we’re trying to replicate what goes on in a highly specialized reproductive organ, the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which basically make up the reproductive tract of a woman,” Poma Fertility Laboratory Director Klaus Wiemer, PhD, said. “In men we’re also trying to put the finishing touches on sperm that a man produces and then get that sperm so it’s ready to fertilize an egg.”
Assisted fertilization is only one of many things Wiemer oversees. The Poma Fertility laboratory also offers semen cryopreservation (fertility preservation) and embryo and egg cryopreservation if needed.
At Poma Fertility, we can also arrange for preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) testing. With these laboratory tests, a single cell is removed from an embryo and examined for any abnormalities before the embryo is implanted in the uterus. PGD testing can be used to screen both of the parents for more than 100 diseases including fragile X syndrome, sickle cell, and cystic fibrosis.
Poma also provide Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) services. PGS (sometimes called Comprehensive Chromosome Screening – CCS) refers to checking the embryo for all 24 of the possible chromosomes. New research provides good evidence that PGS improves the likelihood of embryo implantation and pregnancy rates per transfer. The major barrier to full adoption is cost, as it adds about $7,000 per IVF cycle considering the cost of biopsy, genetic analysis, and a frozen embryo transfer cycle because we cannot get the results of the biopsy in time to transfer before noon on day 6 after retrieval.
“You try to lay the plan ahead of time. You try to lay out different scenarios such as what is ideal, average, or what is an unexpected outcome,” Wiemer said.
To increase your chances of a successful outcome, our laboratory also offers advanced assisted reproductive techniques such as laser assisted hatchling and intracytaplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Assisted hatching softens the “shell” around the ooctye, or egg, to improve the odds of successful implantation.
“I really rely a lot on data. I like to be able to analyze data specifically for patients so I can draw upon thousands of retrievals worth of experience. And try to apply as much of that to a specific patient as possible to help me make decisions,” Wiemer said. “The data base is something that we use a lot of and I think that’s an unheralded tool that a lot of IVF clinics don’t specifically use, they often try to rely on a new gadget instead. When you collect and mine the data really well, it will give you answers that you simply can’t get anywhere else.”
The laboratory analysis results give our medical team a clear picture of every patient’s medical situation and allows us to recommend the best course of infertility treatment for our patients.
“When I see beautiful embryos today, it is just as exciting as it was when I saw beautiful embryos in 1985,” Wiemer adds. “You get that one perfect embryo and it makes this baby that you get to see later on. There’s just not a cooler feeling than that; I love it.”