Embryo Assisted Hatching

Assisted hatching is a special technique to help the embryo implant into your uterus. The technique is typically used in conjunction with IVF or ICSI. The thought is that thinning or making a small hole in the embryo's outer shell (called the zona pellucida) may help the embryo to progress and successfully implant in your uterine lining.

Some fertility specialists and clinics choose to use assisted hatching with all of their IVF patients because they believe that it increases pregnancy success rates. Others decide to use assisted hatching under certain conditions, such as:

• Older women using their own eggs

• Couples with poor quality embryos

• Embryos that have a thick outer shell

• Couples who have failed implantation in previous IVF or ICSI cycles

Assisted hatching is done just prior to embryo transfer during your IVF or ICSI treatment cycle. The procedure is usually performed on day 3 of the embryo's development and usually when the embryo is at the eight-cell stage. The methods used to place the tiny hole in the outer shell vary and may include the use of acid, a micro needle, or laser. The embryos are then placed back in the incubator, and the embryo transfer is performed shortly thereafter.

Unfortunately, a few risks are involved with this procedure:

• The procedure itself will damage or destroy about 1 percent of the embryos.

• Infection risk for the embryo is greater because the procedure deprives the embryo of its outer protective layer.

• Assisted hatching has been linked with a slightly higher chance of identical twins.

Pregnancy rates vary from clinic to clinic. Many fertility programs report an increased pregnancy rate for IVF with assisted hatching technique when compared to IVF without hatching. Ask your doctor if this technique could benefit you.

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