Sometimes we can attribute fertility problems to genetics, you know why? Over the years, researchers have discovered that some chromosomal abnormalities can occur during the formation of sperm, oocytes, or embryos.
First, let us start with some basic information: human beings have 46 chromosomes, 23 inherited from our father and 23 from our mother, which come together shortly after fertilization to give a unique genetic identity to the future baby. During fertilization, the chromosomes contain the future baby’s genes, which will indicate everything from the color of his hair or eyes to what diseases he will be prone to.
But if the order or number of chromosomes is altered during fertilization, for example, when there are three chromosomes number 21 in an embryo instead of only one pair (which gives rise to Down’s Syndrome) we say that there is a chromosomal abnormality.
Generally, we classify chromosome abnormalities into two types:
Numerical abnormalities. When there are missing or extra chromosomes in the embryo.
Structural abnormalities. When there are changes in the order or amount of DNA in the chromosomes during the formation of the embryo.
Some of these abnormalities come directly from the oocyte or sperm (i.e., from the mother or father) that forms the embryo; in other cases these abnormalities may occur in the embryo itself, even though the parents do not have any genetic problems. What are the consequences? They can cause pregnancy not to occur, miscarriage to occur, or the baby to be born with a genetic disease.
One example is translocation, which occurs when genetic material from two different chromosomes (which should not come together) is joined together during the creation of sperm. With this condition, the embryo may have an extra piece of chromosome and/or a piece of chromosome is missing.
It is worth noting that a baby with this condition can inherit normal chromosomes, but can also inherit chromosomes with translocations or be born with health problems.
Males who carry chromosome problems may also not produce sperm, resulting in infertility.
For women, genetics play an especially important role in their fertility. For example, a common problem is aneuploidies (errors in the number of chromosomes in the oocytes) commonly generated from the age of 35 onwards and which increase with age.
This reduces the chance of generating a full-term pregnancy, increases miscarriages, and increases the chance that a baby will be born with a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome.
Although genetic make-up is particularly important, it is not the only factor that influences fertility. Fortunately, couples who have difficulty conceiving, whether due to genetic problems or not, can resort to methods such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), using their own or donor oocytes or sperm.
With their professional experience, a specialist in assisted reproduction can help you discover the causes of infertility and detect any anomalies. To avoid a risky pregnancy, you can perform an IVF cycle and analyze the embryos obtained through the Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis. This technique allows for the transfer of embryos free of chromosomal or genetic problems into the patient’s uterus.
If you are interested in receiving an informed opinion and a treatment that suits your needs, do not hesitate to contact us.