The Battle of the Embryos: Untested Vs PGS Embies


One thing that I have come to hate with fertility treatment is the no guarantee part. I mean, it’s hard not to get your hopes high, when the doctor says “Let’s do this, let’s try that.” You are like, “Surely, this doctor has done it before, he/ she must know what they are talking about.”

Alas, when it does not work out as you thought, or even they thought, you feel cheated. Pre-implantation Genetic Screening, PGS, is one of such add-ons in an IVF cycle that is supposed to improve the chances of implantation and overall success of the cycle. When I first read about PGS, I was quite excited and felt like it was a cure-all, especially for implantation failure, until I heard about a couple of ladies who did it and still ended up with a BFN. It was a let-down and not a gentle one at that. I was harshly reminded of the fact that fertility treatments come with no guarantee, as in NO GUARANTEES.

If I feel this way, imagine how the lady who went through the procedure would feel. I was even more bewildered by the fact that some other ladies, who were cycling at the same time as them with untested, unscreened embies went on to get a positive pregnancy result.

Anike* was one of the ladies, whom I knew used PGS embies. And that was after two IVF cycles with untested embies, which had ended in failure of implantation. She had been strongly advised to try PGS, alongside some other add-ons like ICSI, endometrial scratching and so on.

Due to financial constraints, they had settled on only two of the procedures, ICSI and PGS and everything had gone as planned. The embryos were of Grade A quality, her endometrial lining was perfect and of course ICSI ensured they had the best selection of sperm. There was no reason why she should not have gotten a positive pregnancy result, but she did not.

Another failed implantation was what occurred, in spite of the progesterone shots, the full bed rest, everything! It was devastating news, even for me.

Interestingly, Enebi*, who was cycling at about the same time with untested embryos, got a positive pregnancy result. And I wondered how that happened. Not that I begrudge the latter her positive, it would have just been nicer if they both got positives.

The case of Anike and Enebi is quite alright; at least they did not know each other.


Atinuke and Christy were cycle buddies. They shared a lot in common and knew almost all that there was no know about each other’s IVF cycles, both past and present.

Let’s just say, they had rehashed their medical history; the reasons the doctors gave for the failure, symptoms of past cycles, how they coped during egg retrieval and transfer…everything! The number of eggs collected, the number of eggs transferred in the past cycles, the number of frozen eggs they had.

To enable them be true cycle buddies, they choose close dates for the start of their cycles, even though one was doing a fresh cycle, while the other was a frozen egg transfer. At some point, they were in the two week wait together and that was when it got tricky.

Christy was the one who did the fresh embryo cycle and was a few days ahead in the 2WW, while Atinuke transferred her frozen embies, which had gone through PGS, so you can imagine they both had high hopes for success. They compared notes, ticked off symptoms, and tested like it was going out of fashion.

It did not matter that they were supposed to be on full bed rest, they called each other at the slightest opportunity. If one did not know better, you would think they were having a full blown love affair. During their routine test, Christy got a positive and elatedly shared her news with her buddy and advised that on the same DPO, she should test and keep her fingers crossed for a positive.

Even without being told, Atinuke knew testing on that day was a foregone conclusion, especially as her buddy had gotten her positive on that DPO. Surely, their unofficial test date rolled by and Atinuke tested. She got a negative, she tested again, and it was the same thing. She was testing and crying.

For once, she did not find the courage to call her buddy. She cried alone at the sight of those negative tests. It was Christy who later called her to find out, how the tests went. She was sad, just as expected, over the news that her buddy did not get her BFP. She however consoled her with the fact that the official test date was still days ahead and anything could happen before then.

Atinuke said it was okay, but she convinced her husband to take her to the clinic the next day to find out for sure, even though it was not her test day. After telling the story of her cycle buddy, who had done a fresh transfer without PGS, had already gotten her BFP while she who did all sorts of add on got a negative.


She wanted blood work done or she would stop all the other medications like progesterone shots and such. It was obvious that she had already given up on the cycle. They did the test and it was a negative.

That was devastating confirmation. She told her doctor she would not be continuing anyway, but he begged her to continue until the end of the 2WW. That did not make any difference in the end. It was still a negative. It was an absolute pain for her. She couldn’t help but compare her cycle with her buddy, with whom she had almost the same medical history.

And that is where the issue is. Comparing Christy and her cycle is not going to make it easier for her to heal. It does not matter what the post cycle review says, she would always have at the back of her mind, her friend’s cycle, unless she let go.

The best way to go into every cycle, be it with add-ons like PGS, endometrial scratching or not is with a positive attitude, but being realistic enough to know that nothing is guaranteed.  Now, I’m preaching at myself.  

Nothing in life is ever guaranteed, the only thing you can control is making the best out of it.

Stop comparing and stay positive!




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