Very early in their development, embryos are surrounded by an outer coating, the zona pellucida. This coating holds together the individual cells of an embryo. Upon arrival of the embryo in the uterus, the outer zona coating dissolves. The embryo can then “hatch” out of the coating and grow larger. The embryo will not implant in the lining of the uterus until it hatches. One of the most common barriers to becoming pregnant with in vitro fertilization (IVF) is improper implantation of the embryo. A process called assisted hatching (AH) can be used with IVF to help embryos implant and increase the chances of pregnancy success.
Assisted hatching is recommended for infertile couples if:
On the day of AH, the outer shell is thinned so that hatching can occur after transfer to the uterus. AH may increase the possibility of monozygotic twins, or identical twins.
Assisted hatching can be done using acid or a laster. At RCS Bay Area, we use a state-of-the-art laser to hatch day three embryos that will undergo Preimplantation Genetic Testing. We also hatch all frozen embryos before transfer.