People do not often associate the hatching of eggs with human development, yet the process of an embryo implanting on the uterine is similar. Before it can implant, the embryo must break through a protein coating or “shell” that surrounds it. This coating is called the zona pellucida. When it is too thick, the embryo is unable to break through. This prevents implantation.
In assisted hatching, the embryologist weakens the zona pellucida or creates a tiny hole using a laser during the time the embryo is being cultured in the lab. In some instances, an acid solution called Tyrode’s solution is used to help melt a small hole in the coating. This procedure is usually carried out on the third day of embryo development. Weakening or “cracking the shell” allows the embryo to continue to grow while increasing its chance of breaking through the coating and implanting in the uterus.
When Is Assisted Hatching Advisable?
This technique is not suitable for every IVF patient. Women who are above the age of 37 and those who may have experienced IVF failure may be candidates for the procedure. Your fertility doctor will make a determination and advise you if assisted hatching is right for your circumstances.
Assisted hatching may also be advised if preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is planned. The assisted hatching makes PGD easier. The hatching procedure is carried out on the third day after fertilization. On the fifth day of development, a tiny bit of tissue is removed from the outer cells of the embryo. Assisted hatching allows the embryologist to see the outer cells and remove them easier.
Risks with Assisted Hatching
There are rarely any adverse effects to the embryo or pregnancy when assisted hatching is used. Rarely, an embryo can become damaged and unusable because of the procedure. There is also a slightly increased risk of identical twins.
In some cases, antibiotics and steroid hormones may be prescribed around the day of the assisted hatching and embryo transfer. Very rarely, these medications can cause side effects.
Neway Fertility helps people who want children achieve their dream of starting a family. If you are experiencing fertility issues, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our fertility specialists.