The first babysitters: How embryologists facilitate IVF procedures
Embarking upon the parenting journey through IVF is an exciting prospect for couples and single women who are unable to conceive naturally. The key role in an IVF journey remains that of an embryologist – a medical expert who specializes in the study of eggs, sperm and embryos. Often confused with IVF consultants, embryologists facilitate the IVF procedure through a myriad of techniques, and are technically the first babysitters that a parent might find.
The Role of an Embryologist
Upon the commencement of an IVF cycle, the embryologist is responsible for assessing the quality of the sperm and preparing it for fertilization. The embryologist also assesses the quality of the retrieved eggs, looks into the fertilization of eggs with the sperm, and monitors the embryos as they develop to ensure the viability.
Prevention of Birth Defects
Another important responsibility of the embryologist is that of running a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This type of testing is typically recommended for women over the age of 35 years.
Running a PGD is also important for men or women who have a history of a hereditary genetic disorder or are known carriers of certain diseases.
The role of an embryologist in embryo transfer
Being one of the most crucial parts of an IVF cycle, the embryo transfer takes place under the supervision of an embryologist. The spare healthy embryos are preserved; in case they are needed for future IVF cycles or donation.
A successful IVF treatment depends upon an effective collaboration between all the members of a fertility team – the nurses, doctors, and embryologist. Though parents-to-be often don’t spend a lot of one-on-one time with their embryologist, the latter nevertheless work hard behind the scenes to ensure the development of healthy embryos.
From the moment the eggs and sperm are collected from the patients, the embryologist ensures that they are handled safely as they are brought to the embryo lab. It is important for an IVF clinic to have an experienced resident embryologist. The embryologist is the one who carries out the IVF process of mixing the egg with the sperm, or to the ICSI technique of injecting the sperm directly into the egg. Therefore, an experienced embryologist can help to increase the chances of fertilisation.