Carrier screening—which looks at potential parents’ DNA to determine whether or not it contains mutations that can cause a number of genetic disorders that could be passed on in future children—is available for anyone trying to conceive, says Piraye Yurttas Beim, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Celmatix, a fertility technology company. She adds that conducting it prior to pregnancy to allow couples to consider the most complete range of reproductive options.
According to the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists, all women who are thinking about becoming pregnant or who are already pregnant are offered carrier screening for cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathies, and spinal muscular atrophy. Tests for additional, specific conditions are available, as well. In the past, carrier screening was largely used to check ethnic populations at higher risk for certain conditions, such as Tay-Sachs disease, or those with a family history of certain disorders. Today, many women considering pregnancy are offered screening, including women not seeking fertility treatments to help them conceive, says Dr. Yurttas Beim.
If both members of the couple are carriers of a specific genetic disorder, they may choose to pursue IVF, even before trying to conceive naturally. When two parents carry the same mutation, it increases the chance that the baby will be born with that disease. Embryos created through IVF can be biopsied before implantation via a test known as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to identify and select ones that are disease-free.
PGT is only available to those who undergo IVF treatment. Women over age 35 or couples who are known to be carriers of a genetic disorder are more commonly recommended PGT; evidence is still accumulating on how helpful this might be for younger women, Dr. Yurttas Beim adds.
Still have questions about getting pregnant? Check out our fertility FAQ here.
Editors’ note: We use the terms “woman” and “female” in this article to refer to people with internal reproductive organs; however we understand that not everyone with internal reproductive organs identifies as a woman or a female. We use the terms “man” and “male” to refer to people with external reproductive organs; however we understand that not everyone with external reproductive organs identifies as a man or a male.
Jennifer Gerson is a Maggie Award-winning journalist whose reporting on reproductive rights, women's health, and sexual violence regularly appears in Cosmopolitan, as well as The Guardian, Yahoo, Allure, Teen Vogue, Mic and other national publications.
'A Very Boy Band Holiday': Everything You Need to Know
The show features members of bands like *NSYNC and New Kids on the Block.
By Julie Tremaine •
Why George Clooney Turned Down $35 Million for a Single Day’s Work
“My wife and I had this conversation when I turned 60 this summer.”
By Julie Tremaine •
Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan Finally Ended Their Feud
“I am genuinely very happy for her.”
By Julie Tremaine •
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar •
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch •
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain •
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla •
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein •
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung •
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer •
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe •