A Solution To Infertility
Millions of couples struggle to conceive every year. Many are diagnosed with infertility, which is the inability to get pregnant after 12 months of consistent unprotected sexual intercourse. Doctors use several techniques to treat infertility, but when most fail, in vitro fertilization (IVF) can help. Along with IVF, fertility clinics have been trying assisted hatching. Can this simple yet innovative technique raise the chances of pregnancy?
All about IVF
Since 1978, in vitro fertilization has helped hundreds of thousands of couples start or grow families. IVF is a multi-step process that first involves recovering reproductive material from the hopeful parents. The woman will take fertility medication to increase the number of eggs for fertilization. These eggs are then extracted in a simple surgical procedure. From there, an embryologist combines the egg with sperm, sometimes from a donor, to create embryos. The best embryo is implanted into the woman's uterus, and the clinic freezes the rest for future use.
Advancing IVF with assisted hatching
The success of IVF varies, with reports of as much as a 50% live birth rate. However, despite the success of IVF, scientists have not stood still. Many fertility clinics use additional techniques to improve the procedure's success rate. Assisted hatching is one such technique that involves cracking the embryonic shell beforehand. This added step may improve implantation and, therefore, pregnancy.
What happens during assisted hatching?
Assisted hatching happens with the embryologist or lab technician. The egg and a washed sperm sample are combined in a culture dish. The cells stay for several days to multiply and form the embryo. A thin protective shell then forms around the cells. The lab technician makes a small crack in this shell with a laser or unique solution. Although the shell cracks, the embryo is safe, healthy, and usable. From there, the doctor transfers the hatched embryo to the uterus.
Does assisted hatching make a difference?
Studies show that the procedure is effective in helping with pregnancy. For instance, the pregnancy of IVF with assisted hatching is 38%, with implantation as high as 50%. Assisted hatching can increase pregnancy rates but is unnecessary in most instances. However, a doctor can request the extra step if multiple IVF cycles fail. Embryos undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis may also benefit from assisted hatching.
Boosting failed IVF cycles with assisted hatching
In most cases, assisted hatching has the same success rate as regular IVF. However, some situations, like failed cycles, warrant the move. Removing a part of the outer shell may help with implantation and pregnancy. Of course, with any procedure, there are risks. In the case of assisted hatching, the chance of a multiple pregnancy increases. However, the process is generally safe and effective and shows the remarkable capabilities of IVF.