What is Assisted Hatching?
During the early stages of pregnancy shortly after an egg is fertilized, embryo development begins. This is characterized by cell division, expansion, build up of a fluid filled cavity, and the rupture of the zona pellucida. Zona pellucida is a coat of protein around the fertilized egg and the embryo. The rupture of the zona pellucida is important as the embryo is released through this break and settles in the lining of the uterus. This is called hatching and when hatching fails, pregnancy does not happen. It is in such a scenario that micromanipulation is used in the world of healthcare. Assisted hatching is the healthcare process that is done during an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, by rupturing the zona pellucida to ensure hatching. Sustained research has shown that embryos with a thin zona pellucida have a better chance of implantation or hatching. Assisted hatching ensures implantation of the embryo.
Who Requires Assisted Hatching?
Women between the ages of 35 and 43, women with elevated baseline FSH level, women who have not conceived after one or more cycles of IVF, and women whose embryos lack sufficient energy to complete the hatching process are suitable candidates for assisted hatching. The process of assisted hatching is referred to as micromanipulation and is carried out by making a small hole in the zona of the embryo with a pipette carrying acidified Tyrode’s solution. The embryo is then rinsed and put in an incubator before it’s transferred to the uterus for implantation. Micromanipulation comes with the risk of damage to the embryo during the manipulation process or while transferring the embryo. There is also a chance of having identical twins. Healthcare teams specializing in IVF can explain in greater detail the process and associated risks of assisted hatching.