Chorionic Villus Sampling In Depth: Why Your Partner Might Need It

Is your kid looking good in your genes?

There seems to be an endless amount of ways to poke, prod and palpate a pregnant lady. While that may sound delightful in certain contexts, when it comes to the doctor’s office, there is nothing delightful about it.

Now that you are her wingman for this 9-month journey to Babyland it’s a good idea to have a map of where the rough patches might be. Genetic testing is one such possible rough patch. One of the more common diagnostic genetic tests is chorionic villus sampling (CVS). So, avoid looking like someone caught you in an actual CVS browsing the “As Seen On TV” aisle when the subject come up. Get the lowdown on the CVS and look like a super supportive genius instead.

What Are Chorionic Villi? And Why Sample Them?

Chorionic villi are tiny little tendrils of tissue in the placenta. They aid in the transfer of goodies from the mother to the baby, and waste from the baby to the mother (yep, she starts getting crap from your kid even before it’s born).


Your kid’s genetic information can be extracted from these little wispy tissue fingers. And understanding some key issues of your kid’s health will require that genetic information. Plus it works way better than just shouting “How’re things going in there!?” into your partner’s abdomen.

When Is CVS Recommended?

Your doc may suggest CVS at around 10 weeks in instances where both you and your partner are carriers of the same genetic disorder. The test might also be recommended if you’ve already had a child with a chromosomal abnormality like Down syndrome.

Docs recommended the test for women over the age of 35 in some instances, because that’s considered advanced maternal age for everyone except Madonna. That said, you may want to consider the risks carefully with your partner before jumping into CVS.

Interestingly, CVS can also determine paternity. But hopefully, if you’re reading this, that isn’t a question. Right?

What Can CVS Diagnose?

The test can pin down nearly 200 chromosomal disorders including:

  • Tay-sachs
  • Down syndrome
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cystic fibrosis

More importantly, CVS cannot detect any neural tube defects. Or if your kid will just turn out to be an asshole.

flickr / fo.ol

What Kind Of Awfulness Will She Endure?

On a scale that starts with jelly on the belly (ultrasound) and ends with needle through the belly (amniocentesis), CVS is just generally awful-ish. The procedure requires a thin tube be inserted through her cervix and into the womb. The sample is then suctioned into the tube.

However, it can also be sampled through the old needle through the belly trick. Which is awesome if you’re both big Eli Roth fans and feeling Hostel about the procedure.

What Are The Risks?

There are a couple of risks associated with CVS. The biggie comes down to the rh-factor of the kid vs. the rh-factor of your partner. If the two rh factors differ, a small amount of blood from the fetus could trigger an immune reaction that would complicate the pregnancy.

There is also about a .7-percent risk of miscarriage with the procedure. Rarely, infections might also occur.

Should You Do It?

Obviously this is a personal decision. Some parents might use the results of CVS to decide whether or not they will carry the pregnancy to term. Some parents will carry the child to term regardless of the results and simply prepare for a different future. Others will opt out altogether to avoid the stress of both the test and any positive results.

However, the key is to have a heartfelt conversation regarding this, and any other tests. With good preparation and a little luck, your roughest patches will the fabric swatches for the nursery drapes.