What is assisted hatching?
Our Southern California fertility doctor, Robert Anderson MD, often recommends assisted hatching. As part of in vitro fertilization (IVF), this procedure helps the embryo hatch, giving it a better chance of implanting in the uterus and becoming a successful pregnancy.
A few days after fertilization, our experienced embryologists hatch each embryo in our laboratory. They use a high-powered microscope to evaluate the embryo. The embryologists then insert a fine needle, use a laser or apply a special acidic solution to create a tiny opening in the outer layer of the embryo, called the zona pellucida. This layer exists to protect the embryo. By penetrating it, the proteins and genetic material inside will have easier access to the wall of the uterus.
This elasticity and thinning of the outer layer of the embryo is a natural process that occurs in all pregnancies, whether or not IVF was used. In IVF, Dr. Anderson transfers the embryo to the uterus about one day after assisted hatching. Then, it has a chance to implant and become a viable pregnancy.
Why is assisted hatching used?
Our Southern California fertility doctor recommends assisted hatching for certain patients.
- Women over 35 years of age
- Couples who have experienced failed IVF cycles
- Women with high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels
- Patients with poor egg or embryo quality
We use assisted hatching in all cases of embryo transfer in IVF regardless of a woman’s age or how many IVF cycles have been attempted. An embryo must hatch in order to implant. We believe assisted hatching improves implantation rates and gives hopeful parents a long-awaited chance to start a family.
Learn more about our IVF success rates.
Are there any risks?
Assisted hatching doesn’t hurt the embryo and the procedure has minimal risks. The embryo could be damaged when the outer layer is penetrated, but the chance of this happening is low. Lasers can be used quickly, so there isn’t any risk of overhandling or overheating.
Even though assisted hatching helps the overall implantation rate, other factors play a vital part in the health of an embryo. The age and chromosomal makeup of the eggs are also critical to the success of IVF.