An unsuccessful round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is frustrating & discouraging for patients as well as their care team, especially after several attempts. A common reason that IVF is unsuccessful is that the embryo fails to implant properly in the uterus.
One of the methods that is used to help improve implantation rates is known as ‘assisted hatching’. Assisted hatching may be recommended to those who have experienced multiple failed IVF cycles as an additional process in an attempt to increase IVF success.
When an embryo is formed, both naturally or through IVF, it is surrounded by a matrix of proteins known as the zona pellucida. In order for implantation to occur, the embryo must hatch from it’s protein shell.
Assisted hatching is a lab technique done by embryologists to create a small opening in the zona pellucida allowing the embryo to hatch more easily. There are many methods for an embryologist to use when performing assisted hatching procedures, though the most commonly used is laser-assisted hatching.
Assisted hatching has been shown to improve implantation and clinical pregnancy rates. It has also been shown that assisted hatching can allow an embryo to implant a day earlier than embryos that hatch naturally. However, assisted hatching has not yet been shown to improve live birth rates, and more research is still needed in this area. Research also indicates that assisted hatching is much more beneficial for those with poor prognosis over those with a good prognosis. For this reason, assisted hatching is not recommended for everyone.
There are many reasons as to why an embryo may have a thicker zona pellucida, and therefore more difficulty hatching naturally. Some reasons that the zona pellucida may be thicker are: advanced age, elevated FSH, and fertility medications. Assisted hatching has been shown to increase clinical pregnancy rates in:
While not common, risks of assisted hatching include:
When going through IVF treatments, it is often tempting to want to apply all the possible processes & procedures. However, more intervention will not necessarily lead to higher chances of success.
Assisted hatching is a procedure that is not required for everyone and should only be offered to specific patients based on their particular medical & fertility history. It is important to talk to your doctor in order to determine what is best for you.
If you are interested to learn more about assisted reproductive technology advancements send us a message in the form below.
We have now reopened and are booking appointments with new COVID-19 protocols in place:
Please call us for more information or to book an appointment