In the last 15 years, there has been great progress in the field of IVF. Due to new technologies and procedures, IVF treatments have become more and more effective, even for couples with low fertility prognosis. Appeared in the 1990s, assisted hatching (hatching - leaving the embryo out of its shell) is a procedure that can help you improve your chances of successfully IVF. Available at most fertility clinics, the procedure is especially recommended for couples who have the highest risk for failed IVF.
Assisted ultrasound is a relatively new technique used during certain IVF procedures. It is practiced to help the embryo to come out of its protective shell and implant in the uterus.
During the initial stage of development, your embryo is covered by a layer of protein, known as the pellucid area. The zona pellucida has the role of protecting the embryo until it reaches the stage of blastocyst development. In order to be successfully implanted in the uterine mucosa, the embryo must exit (hatch) from the pellucid area and attach itself to the walls of the uterus.
Sometimes the embryo is difficult to get out of the protective layer. This can happen if the pellucid area is too thick or if the embryo does not have enough energy to penetrate the layer. Assisted hatching aims to help these embryos to exit the pellucid area by creating a small hole in its outer membrane.
How to do it
Assisted hatching is a very delicate procedure, which requires some special skills. It is performed using micromanipulation techniques under the microscope, during the 4th day of embryonic development.
The embryo is first placed in a Petrie vessel containing a culture solution. A special pipette is used to attach the embryos in one place. The embryologist takes a special needle containing an acid solution and places it near the pellucid area.
A small amount of the acid solution is released from the needle so that it comes in contact with the pellucid area. This acid solution begins to gradually dissolve the protective layer, creating a small hole. The embryo is then washed in a special solution and placed back in the incubator until the transfer takes place.
Assisted locking techniques are not suitable for any couple. But the procedure is usually recommended for:
Unfortunately, there are some risks associated with assisted hatching. In particular, the assisted hatching procedure seems to increase the chances of having identical twins (also known as monozygotic twins). This occurs due to the micromanipulation techniques used to penetrate the pellucid area, techniques that can sometimes cause the embryos to be divided into 2 equal halves.
There is also an increased risk of:
The process can also have complications for the mother, including:
These side effects are due to steroid medication and antibiotics, which you must take during the transfer procedure. Because the protective layer around the embryo has been compromised, it is essential to take medications to lower your immune system and prevent embryo infection.
Many couples choose to do assisted assisted hatching during the IVF procedure. This is because the technique is associated with a number of advantages, including:
Unfortunately, assisted hatching also has some disadvantages. Specifically, assisted hatching is:
Assisted hatching is associated with a rather high success rate, especially when performed by an experienced specialist. In fact, the success rate is 49% for women between the ages of 35 and 39. Women over the age of 40 generally have a low success rate, but assisted hatching still gives them a higher chance of conception than if they would take IVF without this procedure.