The management of fertility is one of 
most important functions of adulthood
- Germaine Greer -

For women who have failed IVF or have a poor prognosis for IVF, the fertility doctor may recommend a technique known as Assisted Hatching.

What Is Assisted Hatching?

One of the first steps involved in IVF is fertilisation of the egg. Once this has occurred, the egg, now called an embryo, will start to divide. The embryo(s) is housed in a “shell”, a protein layer known as the zona pellucida. For a successful pregnancy to occur, the embryo has to hatch out of the zona pellucida, and then attach itself to the uterus lining.

Researched based evidence has shown that embryos with a thin zona pellucida have a better chance of hatching and implanting in the endometrium of the uterus. With the assisted hatching technique, the embryologist is able to make a small hole in the zona pellucida, thus aiding the embryo to hatch out. This is done with the use of a high-powered microscope, micro-manipulators and a computer guided laser. The assisted hatching technique is performed a few hours before an embryo transfer.

Indications for Assisted Hatching

According to research, Assisted Hatching may be useful in case of:

  • Advanced maternal age (older than 38)
  • Two or more failed IVF cycles
  • Poor embryo quality
  • Thick zona pellucida
  • Frozen embryo transfer

Will Assisted Hatching Increase IVF Success?
Researchers at New York-Cornell Medical College found that there was an increase in implantation in all women studied, particularly in those over age 38 or those who had an elevated FSH level at the start of their menstrual cycle. Couples with multiple failed IVF cycles also benefited from this technique.

Is Assisted Hatching with IVF Safe?
There can be complications from Assisted Hatching. It may be associated with damage to the embryo and a reduction in the viability of the embryo. In addition, Assisted Hatching has been associated with an increased risk of monozygotic (identical) twins.

Talk to your fertility doctor about the risks and benefits of assistant hatching.