Did you know that human eggs hatch?
With the term hatching, one can immediately think of a bird or other animal birthed via eggs. The human egg or oocyte goes through a hatching process as well. When the ovaries release the egg, there is a protective layer of proteins called the zona pellucida. This shell has several functions. For starters, zona pellucida keeps the cells together as the egg grows. The shell hardens when one sperm fertilizes the egg, preventing other sperm from penetrating. Zona pellucida also prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the fallopian tubes. As the egg reaches closer to the endometrium, the shell becomes thinner, and the egg hatches for implantation.
Assisted hatching takes IVF a step further
For successful implantation, the embryo must hatch. Some scientists believe that during pregnancy or IVF, some embryos fail to hatch effectively. This reduces the chances of pregnancy. In some cases, a clinic may perform assisted hatching by creating a small breach or crack in the zona pellucida. The goal is to increase the chances of pregnancy.
Types of assisted hatching.
Cracking the zona pellucida is a delicate process and takes a highly skilled team to perform. A small break in the proteins must happen without affecting the embryo inside. Fertility clinics will try one of several methods, including:
- Artificial expansion of the shell. This technique uses pressure to expand the shell, making hatching easier.
- Chemical hatching uses an acid solution, called Tyrode’s solution, to breach the shell.
- Manual hatching happens with a micro-needle while holding the embryo with a small tool called a pipette.
- Laser hatching is a popular option, where the clinic makes a micro-tear in the shell with a tiny laser. Laser hatching is one of the safest options but is not widely accessible.
When done correctly, assisted hatching can breach the shell without damaging the embryo. So the procedure is considered safe. After assisted hatching, the IVF process continues with implantation.
Who benefits from assisted hatching?
In the IVF space, the concept of assisted hatching has both pros and cons. As a rule of thumb, assisted hatching is not used in all cases of IVF. However, there are instances where the technique helps. For example, if IVF failed after several attempts, assisted hatching may increase the chances of pregnancy. Assisted hatching is also useful for preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD. With PGD, the clinic checks for genetic abnormalities before implanting the embryo. The process is much easier and more accurate with a hatched embryo. Speak with a doctor to determine if these scenarios are applicable.
Talk about assisted hatching today
Infertility can be a stressful experience, increased with the process of IVF. IVF clinics will strive to perform successful procedures that work in the patient’s favor. Through research, assisted hatching may help with unsuccessful IVF procedures. Assisted hatching may not be available in every clinic. But don’t hesitate to ask a fertility specialist for more information.
Enter your email address below and we will send you our monthly newsletter. We will never SPAM you and we never sell our mailing list. Ever.