Assisted hatching, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, is a laboratory procedure, sometimes done along with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. During IVF, the fertilized eggs are monitored for three to six days as they develop into embryos. The best embryo is then transferred into the woman’s uterus or frozen for future use.
While the embryo develops, a group of cells that make up a protective shell (zona pellucida) surround it. The embryo naturally breaks out of this shell as it grows. Sometimes, the doctor may ask the laboratory to make a small “crack” in the outer shell of the embryo right before it is placed into the woman’s body. This is called assisted hatching, and the hope is that it might help the embryo expand, implant into the uterine wall, and finally lead to a pregnancy.
Assisted hatching is especially beneficial for older women and for women who previously have not achieved pregnancy with IVF. Several studies have reported that the pregnancy rate for these women increased from 19 to 44 percent when using assisted hatching in combination with IVF.
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