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Assisted Hatching IVF

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In vitro fertilization (IVF) failure is a frustrating experience for individuals and couples, and it is often caused by an embryo's failure to implant in the uterus.

For women who have failed IVF or have a poor prognosis for IVF, the fertility doctor may recommend a technique known as assisted hatching.

What Is Assisted Hatching?

After an egg is fertilized in the laboratory, the cells begin to divide. During these initial stages of development, the embryo is contained in a layer of proteins known as the zona pellicuda. In order to successfully implant into the uterine lining, an embryo has to hatch out of the zona pellucida and attach to the walls of the uterus.

Assisted hatching is a newer lab technique that was developed when fertility experts observed that embryos with a thin zona pellucida had a higher rate of implantation during IVF. With assisted hatching, an embryologist uses micromanipulation under a microscope to create a small hole in the zona pellucida. This happens on the fourth day of embryo development when the embryos contain an average of six to eight cells.

The embryos are stabilized by a holding pipette, and on the opposite side a small pipette containing an acidified solution creates a small defect in the zona pellucida. The embryos are then rinsed to remove any excess acid solution and returned to the incubator for a few hours before transfer into the uterus.

Who Should Use Assisted Hatching with IVF?

Assisted hatching is thought to be helpful for couples with a poor prognosis whose embryos are thought to lack sufficient energy to complete the hatching process.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, assisted hatching may be indicated for women with:

  • advanced maternal age (older than 38)
  • two or more failed IVF cycles
  • poor embryo quality

Will Assisted Hatching Increase the Chances of IVF Success?

Assisted hatching has been found to help with IVF success in poor prognosis patients.

Researchers at New York-Cornell Medical College found that with assisted hatching, there was an increase in implantation in all women studied, particularly in those over age 38 or those who had an elevated FSH level on Day 3 of the menstrual cycle. Couples with multiple failed IVF cycles also benefited from assisted hatching.

Because assisted hatching is a difficult technique, the success is dependent on the embryologist's experience and technique, it is important to talk with your fertility clinic about how successful they are with the procedure.

Is Assisted Hatching with IVF Safe?

There can be complications from assisted hatching. It may be associated with damage to the embryo and damage to individual blastomeres with a reduction in the viability of the embryo. In addition, assisted hatching has been associated with an increased risk of monozygotic (identical) twins.

Talk to your fertility doctor about the risks and benefits of assistant hatching.


Comments (8)

Hi, i'm 39 and my husband is 45 and we will have our first IVF transfer done on 06/11/2014. My nerves are shot i want to make sure im doing everything right. just completed a 15 day cycle of lupron injections and i am now on estrogen patches every other day changing out 4 every other day. I just want to know what can i do to increase my chances of a satisfactory transfer.

Hi metra,

Are you taking prenatal vitamins? Have you limited caffeine and alcohol consumption? Have you considered trying acupuncture? You can do things to change your environment and lifestyle, but talk to your doctor first to make sure nothing will interfere with your fertility drugs or transfer.

Best of luck,

I had hystercomy in 2009, but I still have my ovaries. I am 32 years old. I regret everday having my tubes tied and having the hystercomy as we dream of having a little girl. We do have 3 boys. My husband and I live on SSDI ( fixed Income) and don't know much about it. My friend is willing to be helpful to us but can't afford it and the whole process. I am confused and afraid.

Hi, my husband and I just completed our first cycle of ivf which failed. We are wondering if weare good candidates for assisted hatching. I am 37 and the first trial was full of challenges. They retrieved 8 but were only able to use two and neither implanted.

Hi Allison, Only your doctor can determine if you are a candidate for assisted hatching. Do not hesitate to talk to your fertility doctor and ask questions! You should be an active part of your treatment team. Best, Kim

i am 45 my wife is 42,we want a baby ,my wife was sterilised after her last child,and is also diabetic type1,we want to know if possible how much we would need to pay and the probability of any success?

Hi Marcus, Depending on your wife's ovarian reserve- egg quality and quantity- you might only have to do IVF. The average cost of an IVF cycle is around $12,000. However, if test results come back that she has poor reserve, she may be encouraged to use an egg donor. The fees vary there, but you will be paying for the medical costs of the egg donor as well. Please give us a call at 1-855-955-BABY (2229) or email and we can help you connect with a fertility doctor in your area who specializes in treatment women over the age of 40. Best, Kim

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