Assisted hatching (AH) is an assisted reproductive technology in which the protective shell (zona pellucida) of the embryo is partially broken. It is usually done by the application of an acid or laser, so that the mass of cells inside the embryo can more easily escape and help the embryo for further implantation and pregnancy. This procedure is recommended for the woman of 40 years or above (as zona pellucida is often harder in older women) and also for the younger women with several unsuccessful fertility treatments and also where a distinct thickening of the zona is observed by the embryologist. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), assisted hatching can be very helpful in embryo implantation in women with several unsuccessful IVF treatments. Due to little proof of increased live-birth rates and associated potential complications, application of assisted hatching is not routinely recommended and the procedure is debated within the medical community for a long time.

When is assisted hatching used?

Many different factors may stop an embryo from developing and hatching successfully. Assisted hatching procedure may be considered as one of the most suitable technique before transferring a frozen-thawed embryo as the zona pellucida get herded with freezing. The zona is often harder in older women so assisted hatching mostly has been performed on embryos of older women (38 or 40 years old women), preferably with Day 2 or Day 3 embryo transfers.It is also performed for hatching Day 2 or 3 embryos of younger women if the zona pellucida is thick or if the embryo quality is less than expected. But this process is rather harmful and difficult to hatch fresh blastocyst-stage embryos.If an older woman needs to have a blastocyst-stage embryo transfer; the hatching will be only performed if the zona pellucida is significantly thick. It is also do not recommend the use of assisted hatching in all patients having IVF treatments to conceive.It can be helpful for the women who have failed to get pregnant in with IVF process and those not likely to conceive.

Is assisted hatching safe?

It is least likely that an assisted hatching can harm the embryo and making it unusable. The chance for identical twins may results when assisted hatching is applied and increase the chances of medical complications during pregnancies than in normal.Antibiotics and steroid hormones are prescribed during the process of assisted hatching and embryo transfer which normally don’t results in any side effects. The application of assisted hatching could be unsafe with IVF. It can harm the embryo and individual blastomeres with a reduction in the viability of the embryo. Assisted hatching using laser technology is better than chemical assisted hatching, in which the egg is penetrated with an acidic solution. Laser technology offers more precision and is also takes less time than chemical assisted hatching, and require less time to handle the embryos before transfer. Therefore, enables embryologists to prevent excessive heat exposure and reduced the risk to the embryo.

You may Contact Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour for your all Assisted Hatching related questions. She is recognized as one of the best gynecologists and infertility specialist based in Delhi.

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