Assisted Hatching

What is assisted hatching?

Assisted hatching is an additional procedure that can be performed in patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Once embryos are created using IVF, the embryo is surrounded by a hard outer layer of cells called the zona pellucida. You can think of this outer layer as the “shell” of the embryo. An embryo must break free of this “shell” in order to implant into the uterus and develop into a pregnancy. Assisted hatching is a procedure where we can help the embryo “hatch” from its “shell” by creating a small crack in the zona pellucida. It is believed that assisted hatching can help an embryo implant in the uterus, leading to higher pregnancy rates in some patients.

How does the assisted hatching procedure work?

Assisted hatching is generally performed on the third day of embryo development. The embryologists use a laser to create a very small hole in the zona pellucida. Assisted hatching can also be done on previously frozen and thawed embryos.

Who are ideal candidates for assisted hatching?

Assisted hatching is not recommended for all patients, but may be helpful in women who are older (more than 37 years old) or who have had a prior IVF failure.

Are there any risks associated with assisted hatching?

There is a slight increased risk for identical twins in embryos that have undergone assisted hatching. Very rarely, an embryo can be damaged from the assisted hatching process.