What is assisted hatching?
Assisted hatching is an additional procedure that can be performed in patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Once embryos are created using IVF, the embryo is surrounded by a hard outer layer of cells called the zona pellucida. You can think of this outer layer as the “shell” of the embryo. An embryo must break free of this “shell” in order to implant into the uterus and develop into a pregnancy. Assisted hatching is a procedure where we can help the embryo “hatch” from its “shell” by creating a small crack in the zona pellucida. It is believed that assisted hatching can help an embryo implant in the uterus, leading to higher pregnancy rates in some patients.
Assisted Hatching Treatment Procedure
The procedure involves an embryologist sending a brief, strong light beam, under a microscope, to create a gap in the shell through which the embryo can come out. This is usually done three days after fertilization has occurred during an IVF or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) cycle, which is when the embryo has begun to cleave (divide). It takes only a few seconds and does not harm the embryo. The embryo is then transferred back into the patient’s uterus to attach itself to the lining and continue growing.
Who is assisted hatching recommended for?
Any patient can take advantage of laser-assisted hatching, but those most likely to be best suited are those who:
Are above the age of 37
Produce a high level of Follicle
Stimulating Hormone (FSH) early in their cycle
Have had unsuccessful IVF cycles
Have a tendency to produce a harder and/or thicker zona pellucida
Are there any risks associated with assisted hatching?
There is a slight increased risk for identical twins in embryos that have undergone assisted hatching. Very rarely, an embryo can be damaged from the assisted hatching process.
Advantages of laser assisted hatching
A laser has been shown to be superior to other forms of assisted hatching (chemical and manual) thanks to several advantages:
Minimal handling of the embryo
Fast and exact control over the drilling of the shell opening
It is gentle and safe, with no negative effects on the embryo
Wide availability to patients, and offered under clinical guidance depending on your particular circumstances