Laser assisted hatching

Assisted hatching is a technology which helps embryos to attach to the womb of the woman. Pregnancy cannot occur unless the human embryo hatches.

The unfertilised egg is surrounded by a shell called zona pellucida. The zona pellucida ensures that only one sperm cell enters and thus fertilises the egg. After fertilisation of the egg, zona pellucida keeps the cells of the embryo together. Now the cell begins to cleave into a two-cell, then a four-cell and so on.

During the cleavage of the early foetus, zona pellucida hardens. This development is normal and the purpose is to keep the cells in the egg together. Removing the egg for in vitro fertilisation and micro insemination takes it out of its natural environment. This procedure tends to lead to egg shells that harden faster those of normally fertilised eggs.

Especially women older than 37 years of age, have a tendency to produce eggs with a harder zona pellucida than younger women. The same goes for women with a high level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This can be diagnosed from a blood sample.

The problem of a harder zona pellucida is that the egg may not hatch and thus not attach to the woman’s womb. Hatching of the egg is necessary to become pregnant. We know that eggs from older women have problems hatching, explaining why some older women have problems becoming pregnant.

Laser hatchingLaser assisted hatching is one out of several methods to help the fertilised egg hatch and attach to the womb. Other methods are acid or mechanical hatching of one a part of zona pellucida. At Nordica we offer laser assisted hatching, which is a gentle and safe way to weaken a part of zona pellucida. After treating the fertilised egg with laser assisted hatching, we transfer the embryo into the woman’s womb. In most cases the embryo will attach for normal growth and development.

Scientific experiments have shown that one method of assisted hatching is not superior to another. Nor are eggs damaged by assisted hatching.

Recent meta-research (comparison of different relevant researches) showed that women who have undergone repeated IVF treatments without results, double their chances of a pregnancy by use of assisted laser hatching.

At Nordica we offer laser assisted laser hatching for patients who have undergone repeated treatments without conceiving, and/or in cases where the woman is over 37 years of age. We also recommend that thawed embryos are treated with laser assisted hatching. It is our experience that thawed embryos have difficulty attaching to the womb.

The likelihood of improved chances for pregnancy is assessed medically before recommending laser assisted hatching.

Source: Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics 2003 Aug.

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