Assisted hatching can support the embryo in successfully implanting in the uterus
Our Tennessee fertility center doctors might recommend assisted hatching if they suspect IVF embryos might have trouble implanting in a woman’s uterus. An embryologist performs the hatching procedure in the lab after fertilizing the eggs with sperm. After this process, a doctor transfers the embryo into the uterus of the patient or the gestational surrogate. Our doctors work with patients to determine if this option is right for their unique needs.
Why IVF embryos might require assisted hatching
A membrane, which is called the zona pellucida, encases all embryos. It protects them as they develop and prepare to implant in the uterus. This membrane also shields IVF embryos from harm resulting from immune cell invasion or toxins from noninvasive immune cells.
Before an embryo can implant in the uterus, it must “hatch” from the zona pellucida. This hatching typically occurs five or six days after fertilization. This is when the embryo has become a blastocyst.
When certain factors are present, IVF embryos could have difficulty hatching.
- An unusually thick or dense zona pellucida
- A brittle zona pellucida
- Poor embryo quality
- Delayed embryo growth
A woman has a higher chance of having embryos with these issues if she is 38 years or older, has diminished ovarian function or has had several unsuccessful IVF cycles.
After reviewing a woman’s medical history and test results, a doctor at our Tennessee fertility center can determine if a woman might benefit from assisted hatching.
What happens when an embryologist assists with the hatching of IVF embryos
Typically, an embryologist performs assisted hatching on Day 3 of embryo development. The embryologist first assesses the embryo or embryos the doctor will transfer to ensure assisting the hatching will increase the chance of implantation.
To assist hatching, the embryologist uses a high-magnification microscope and delicate micromanipulation instruments. They use the tools to create an opening in the zona pellucida membrane. The embryo then uses this opening to hatch from the zona pellucida. The tools the embryologist uses to create an opening in the zona pellucida don’t harm the cells in the embryo.