Hatching A Plan For Pregnancy

When pursuing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant, various add-on procedures may improve the chances of success. Laser-assisted hatching is an innovative technology that creates a hole in the shell of the embryo, helping to improve the rate of implantation. Any fertility patient can opt for laser hatching, but women over 37 and individuals who have previously had unsuccessful IVF cycles are most likely to see the benefits of this approach.


Understanding implantation

Many steps must occur during IVF before implantation occurs. The eggs must first be retrieved from the ovaries, combined with sperm, and then grown in a lab for a few days. Once the embryo is transferred into the uterus, the outer shell, known as the zona pellucida, must crack open for the embryo to successfully implant. In some cases, especially among women using frozen embryos, the shell is abnormally hard, making hatching more difficult.

Laser-assisted hatching

If a hard outer shell is expected, or a patient wants to do everything possible to increase the chances of conception, laser-assisted hatching can be performed. With this procedure, an embryologist uses a laser, needle, or acid solution to melt or crack a small hole in the zona pellucida and weaken the outer shell. This procedure is typically performed on Day 3 embryos. Immediately after the hatching, the embryo is transferred into the uterus.

Possible risks

Assisted hatching is a very safe procedure, and the embryo usually suffers no harm. Rarely can hatching damage the embryo, making the specimen unusable, but with an experienced embryologist, this is unlikely to occur. The chance of twins is slightly increased from the procedure, and pregnancies complicated by multiples do carry a higher risk for complications.

Is hatching right for you?

Deciding whether to have laser-assisted hatching done is a personal choice. Older women over the age of 35 may be more likely to have a naturally hardened embryo shell, so the procedure may benefit this group. Women using frozen embryos can also benefit from assisted hatching. Lastly, patients who have previously experienced failed cycles may want to consider hatching.

Success rates

There is limited research on the effectiveness of laser-assisted hatching. Some studies show an improvement in clinical pregnancy rates, but follow-up on the number of live births is lacking. Other studies have found that women with good-quality embryos experienced lower pregnancy rates when using assisted hatching. On the other hand, patients in the study with fair and poor-quality embryos experienced variable effects on pregnancy rates based on age. More research is needed to understand which groups of assisted hatching can benefit the most.

Assistance worth exploring

Laser-assisted hatching is a safe procedure designed to improve the chances of implantation. A small crack can make a big difference in whether an IVF cycle is successful. A healthcare provider can discuss the pros and cons of the procedure and help patients decide whether the approach is worth trying to possibly increase the chances of pregnancy.

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