How is assisted hatching done?
During assisted hatching, the outer shell of the embryo is artificially weakened by making a small hole in the zona pellucida. This can be done in several different ways. One method involves the application of an acid solution, called Tyrode’s solution, to help melt a small hole in the shell. Another method involves the use of a laser to “crack” the shell.
Can assisted hatching cause problems with my embryo or pregnancy?
Rarely, assisted hatching can damage the embryo, making it unusable. The risk for identical twins might be slightly increased when assisted hatching is applied. Medical complications are higher in identical twin pregnancies than in normal, singleton pregnancies.
Medicines such as antibiotics and steroid hormones are sometimes prescribed around the day of the assisted hatching and embryo transfer. Uncommonly, side effects can occur from the use of these medications.
Will I benefit from assisted hatching?
We do not recommend the use of assisted hatching in all patients undergoing IVF treatments to conceive. Studies suggest that assisted hatching might help improve pregnancy chances for certain groups of patients. Assisted hatching may help improve pregnancy chances in women who have failed to get pregnant in previous IVF cycles and those with a poor prognosis (who are not likely to conceive).
Also clinics use AH for patients of advanced maternal age, smokers, or patients with a raised FSH, or when transferring embryos that have been cryopreserved.
Are there other reasons to do assisted hatching?
If preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is planned, assisted hatching of embryos on the third day after fertilization can make a biopsy for PGD easier. During a biopsy, a small amount of tissue is taken from the outer cells of the embryo (trophectoderm) around the fifth day after fertilization (blastocyst stage). It is easier to see the trophectoderm and remove the cells in a hatching embryo.