Wellness Wednesday: Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening & Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

Genesis Fertility Centre is committed to fertility patient care, and screening for chromosomal abnormalities can help reduce the probability of a failed cycle, miscarriage or abnormal pregnancy from an IVF cycle. At our clinic, we offer both comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS; Table below) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

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Genesis pregnancy rate for CCS patients of all ages (2014).

What is Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening?

CCS, also known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), allows fertility specialists to identify a chromosomally balanced embryo for transfer with 98% certainty. Screening embryos prior to implantation can help achieve higher success rates and fewer pregnancy losses, particularly for women over 35 years old, patients with multiple-failed IVF cycles, implantation failures or repeated miscarriages.

For women under age 35, more of their embryos will be balanced (euploid). Nevertheless, there are some younger patients who prefer CCS. An example would be unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss or previously chromosomally abnormal pregnancies.

Due to age-related infertility, for women over age 38, most of their embryos will be abnormal (aneuploid) and CCS can help reduce the time needed to successfully conceive by avoiding the transfer of an abnormal embryo.

What is pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and how is it different than CCS?

PGD is a test offered to patients who have a high risk of transmitting a known single-gene defect to their child, such as Tay-Sachs disease, haemophilia and cystic fibrosis.

If you would like to speak with one of our nurses about CCS or PGD, please call us at 604.879.3032

Wellness Wednesday: Breast Self-Exam

how to conduct a breast exam


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Fertility treatment does not increase the risk of breast cancer; however, scientific literature suggests that women who are experiencing infertility are at increased risk of breast cancer.

What can you do?

The best way for early detection of breast cancer is by conducting breast self-exams. In fact, up to 40 per cent of breast cancers are initially detected by women who have felt a lump in their own breasts. Mammograms can help detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation states:

There is no right way or proper technique to being breast aware. You find a way or ways that are comfortable for you.

There is also no time schedule for being breast aware. You do it at a time and in a place that works for you.

Breast awareness is an important part of proactive and preventive health care but it does not claim to save lives or reduce deaths from breast cancer.

For more information on breast self-exams click here.

I can personally attest to the importance of breast self-exam. I found a breast lump during a self-exam that led to early diagnosis and treatment. And now, 18 years later, I can very gratefully call myself a breast cancer survivor. Please take the time to learn and do your own breast self-exam!

Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN

Director of Clinical Operations

Genesis Fertility Centre

Wellness Wednesday: Stress and In Vitro Fertilization Treatment

effect of stress on IVF

By Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN

In the scientific community a number of studies have looked at the impact stress has on the outcomes of fertility treatments. While the results are interesting, there has not been strong evidence to suggest that stress itself has either caused infertility or has a negative impact on fertility treatment outcomes. However, most people who have had the experience of infertility would agree that while stress hasn’t necessarily caused their infertility, infertility certainly has caused additional stress in their lives!  Now, add fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the increase of stress can be exponentially higher. Leading up to IVF can be an intense experience. Infertility itself is a life crisis, usually an unanticipated event. Tests, procedures and probing into one’s intimate personal information can, and often does, produce stress. Overall, infertility can impact one’s psychological, emotional, and physical well being. Once the decision is made to pursue IVF there is the additional financial burden. IVF undoubtedly adds to an already stressful situation.

A few years ago, I conducted a study of women and their partners undergoing IVF. At the beginning of their IVF treatment (which was the first day of blood test and ultrasound monitoring) patients were asked to record their level of stress experienced during their IVF treatment at certain time points:  the start of IVF treatment, during hormone injections and monitoring, egg retrieval, waiting for fertilization results, embryo transfer and waiting for pregnancy test result. Not surprisingly, the highest levels of stress for women were waiting for fertilization results and waiting for the results of their pregnancy test. What was interesting was that men recorded their highest stress levels at the same time points as women but with lower scores overall.

So how does this information help? For the health care providers at Genesis, it reinforces when our patients need the most support. For those going through IVF, it alerts them when they need to have self-care measures in place. Previous blogs have focused on ways to help ease stress and increase well being when dealing with infertility and infertility treatment. We will explore in subsequent blogs the different stages of the IVF treatment cycle and what you can do to reduce stress and increase quality of life during this challenging time.

Donor Sperm; the Choice is Yours!

get the facts behind the donor sperm process

Why use donor sperm?

Using donor sperm is an option for women who desire pregnancy. Women who are single or in a same-sex relationship have the opportunity to build a family through donor sperm insemination. Heterosexual couples where there is male factor infertility may opt for donor sperm insemination as an alternative to more “high tech” fertility treatment options such as IVF using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Use of donor sperm is also an option to avoid having offspring with a serious hereditary disease if the male partner is a genetic carrier.

Where do I start?

Once the decision has been made to use donor sperm as a fertility option, the best place to start is with your physician who will refer you to a reputable fertility centre. Many fertility centres also have a self referral process. In Canada, there are strict regulations against paying sperm donors. As a result, most donor sperm used in Canada originates from the United States as there are no regulations against importation of donor sperm. Fertility centres are able to order donor sperm selected by their patients from commercial sperm banks to be used in donor insemination.

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We would love to hear from you!

What questions do you have about ferility health, fertility treatments, and more

Over the past number of months for Wellness Wednesday, we have presented a wide range of topics to our readers. Now, we would love to hear from you! What have you liked; not liked? What would you like to learn more about?

Here at Genesis, we have a wide-range of knowledge, expertise and experience to draw upon for Wellness Wednesday topics.  Our scientific team learns about the latest developments in reproductive technologies such as genetic testing, egg freezing and advanced treatments for infertility. Within the Genesis team and our associates, current information is available regarding nutrition, dietary supplements and exercise.

Beyond science and the human body, infertility also touches the psychological, sexual and spiritual dimensions of the human experience.  Maintaining balance can be assisted through learning about activities such as yoga and pilates. In addition, the Genesis team can provide information to support psychological coping with the stress of infertility.

Please do take the time to let us know your thoughts and ideas; they would be so appreciated. Once we hear from our readers, the Genesis team will be hard at work presenting Wellness Wednesday topics that are of interest and benefit to you!


Wellness Wednesday: The Goodness of Mineral Make-Up

By: Carla Bondoc

makeup, toxins and fertility health

Mineral Make-Up (Photo Credit: Carla Bondoc, Prettier in Green)

It’s no secret that the body absorbs chemicals through the skin, so whether you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant, choosing healthier skin care products is key. Mineral make-up, with its “cleaner”, non-toxic ingredients, is one option.

The history of mineral make-up dates back in time where many ancient cultures used ground up natural minerals as means of applying color to the skin, camouflaging and using it as war paints. Today, the talk about mineral make-up is everywhere. Many more people are switching to using mineral make-up as the interest in safe, natural and organic products is increasing.

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Wellness Wednesdays: Folic Acid


Folic acid and fertility

If you’re in the process of trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, be sure to consume a healthy dose of folic acid.

If you’re in the process of trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, one thing is for sure. Maternal health and fetal health go hand in hand. One of the most important things that a woman can do for her unborn child is to make sure she takes her folic acid. Folic acid can help to prevent serious birth defects in our children.

Folic acid, also known as folate, comes from many different foods including leafy green vegetables like the popular kale and spinach. It can also be found in orange juice and grains.

A healthy dose of folic acid can help prevent and reduce the risk of babies being born with neural tube defects – serious birth defects involving incomplete development of the brain, spine or spinal cord.

Varying doses of folic acid are prescribed for different people and their health statuses.

Healthy patients with no medical issues require a well-balanced diet full of folate-rich foods and daily supplementation with a multivitamin with folic acid (0.4–1.0 mg) for at least two to three months before conception, throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period (4–6 weeks and as long as breastfeeding continues).

Patients who need a higher dose of folic acid (5mg) are:

  • Patients with health risks, including epilepsy, insulin-dependent diabetes and obesity (Body Mass Index [BMI] greater than 35);
  • Those who have a family history of neural tube defects;
  • People belonging to a high-risk ethnic group, e.g. Sikhs require an increased dietary intake of folate-rich foods and daily supplementation with multivitamins with 5 mg of folic acid.

Patients who require a higher dose of folate should consume the vitamin at least three months before conception and continue its intake throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period.

In a nutshell, folic acid is a mandatory ingredient in the recipe of pregnancy.

Wellness Wednesdays: How and Why Optimizing BMI Improves IVF Success Rates

By: Dr. Sonya Kashyap & Dr. Spence Pentland

how BMI affects your fertility and IVF

BMI Index Comparison (Women) [Image Credit: Weightlossmex.com]

 A recent article by Postmedia News’ Sharon Kirkey highlighted Canada’s fertility specialists’ on-going discussion about whether guidelines should be established for helping (or not helping) severely obese women get pregnant.

So why is weight playing a role in the fertility treatment debate?

Most people are already familiar with the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight: being overweight increases your risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes while being underweight can have negative effects on your heart, immune system and bone density. But your body mass index (BMI) can also play an important role in the success or failure of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

BMI-based body size guides for women and men [Image Credit: International Journal of Obesity]

BMI-based body size guides for women and men [Image Credit: International Journal of Obesity]

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Wellness Wednesdays: 11 Tips to a Healthier Pregnancy

It’s Wellness Wednesday!

Wellness Wednesdays: 11 Tips to a Healthier Pregnancy

Wellness Wednesdays: 11 Tips to a Healthier Pregnancy

For this week’s post, our medical director, Dr. Sonya Kashyap, has some healthy pregnancy advice for those who have or are trying to conceive.

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Wellness Wednesdays: Why I Should Walk During IVF


Fitness for IVF

Walking is the basic low intensity exercise that can be used by just about everyone to provide both physical and mental health benefits at no cost to themselves, other than a little time and energy.

We know that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is stressful and one of the most difficult parts is removing yourself from your usual activities such as exercise. Yet in general, women taking part in IVF programs are advised to limit physical exercise to help increase their chances of conceiving.

This is to minimize potential complications of IVF that can arise from strenuous exercise, creating additional problems rather than improving pregnancy rates. Exercise can cause and/or exacerbate issues such as ovarian torsion.

However, that does not mean that there are no benefits to be gained from light strenuous activity. For those who are more active usually, it won’t feel like much; but for those who are less active, now is a good a time as any to prepare your body for pregnancy.

So what are the health benefits of taking part in light exercise such as walking during IVF treatment?

Alan Kemp from Alanfitness.ca in Vancouver is here to share some of his fitness knowledge with you.

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