This scientific IVF technique comes as a boon and new hope for couples that haven’t found positive results despite umpteen IVF cycles. The chances for pregnancy have found to be improved with this assisted hatching method. Assisted hatching is a laboratory procedure that is often done along with IVF treatment. The aim of this step is to aid the process of embryo hatching and increase the chance of implantation.
The IVF process involves combining the eggs with sperm in a lab setting and monitoring those for 3 or 6 days as they develop into embryos. The best embryo of the lot is then placed into the woman’s uterus. The embryo is surrounded by cells that act as a protective shell called the Zona Pellucida. The embryo naturally breaks out of this shell and pregnancy can occur only if the embryo hatches and implants. In some situations, this layer is abnormally thick or hardened with the freezing and thawing process and this automatically makes hatching harder. That’s when the assisted hatching technique helps.
A small opening or a crack is made on the outer shell of the embryo to make the hatching process easier right before it is placed into the woman’s body. This is done with the hope that the embryo will expand and implant into the uterine wall. In Laser-assisted hatching, a laser device is used to make an extremely precise opening in the Zona Pellucida. This technique makes it possible to have exact control over the size of the breach in the shell. The embryologist sends a brief and strong light beam under a microscope to create a crack on the shell. The embryo is then transferred back into the uterus to implant itself to the lining and continue growing.
Laser Assisted Hatching 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 divide. The beam releases energy in the embryo shell and dissolves it. As a method of increasing the success rate of IVF, this laser assisted process is very effective, and is done in a matter of seconds. It is also quite safe causing no harm to the embryo. The laser method of hatching has been proven to be far superior to other chemical or manual methods.
Fertility experts believe that Laser Assisted Hatching can improve IVF treatments by at least 50%. You can talk with your doctor to understand if the process of assisted hatching is best suited for you. The criteria that can determine suitability is whether the patient is over the age of 35 with limited success in conceiving naturally. Couples who have had repeated pregnancy failures after many IVF cycles or women that can produce a high level of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) early in their cycle are ideal candidates for the Laser Assisted Hatching technique. The embryologist can also observe if the embryos have a distinctively hard or thick Zona Pellucida for the laser beam to penetrate.