To attach to the endometrial lining of a woman's uterus, an embryo must shed its zona pellucida, a protein shell that protects it. Shedding this shell is the only way a fertilized egg (embryo) can attach to the uterine lining and begin pregnancy. In some cases, embryos can have difficulties shedding their shells. Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D. provides assisted hatching at our Chicago area embryology labs, which is achieved by creating a small opening that can help the embryo to erupt from the shell more easily. Contact us to learn more about this and other procedures.
The zona pellucida encases an embryo after conception until it attaches to the endometrium, or uterine wall. At this moment, pregnancy begins. Without this implantation, an embryo will fail to grow, and will eventually die.
The reasons an egg sometimes fails to shed the zona pellucida are relatively unknown. Lower rates of implantation during IVF may relate to the exposure of eggs and embryos to unnatural conditions that can impede them from hatching normally. The process of cryopreservation of sperm, eggs, and embryos also may contribute to the hardening of the shell. In some cases, embryos simply lack the energy to complete the hatching process. The failure to hatch can also occur even when a sperm naturally reaches an egg and fertilizes it in a natural setting.
To assist embryo hatching, Dr. Jacobs' embryologist uses precise micromanipulation tools. They create a small weakened area in the fertilized egg’s membrane shell usually on the fourth or fifth day of development.
It is important to remember that patients will need to undergo the traditional steps of IVF to receive assisted hatching. These include taking hormones and undergoing egg retrieval and embryo insertion. Our team can further explain the IVF process during a consultation.
Dr. Jacobs recommends Assisted Hatching for the majority of cycles. Women who will most likely benefit from assisted hatching include those who:
If Dr. Jacobs determines that assisted hatching might benefit you, the doctor will review the procedure steps, as well as its risks and benefits so that you can make an informed decision about treatment.
To learn more about assisted hatching, contact us today. Dr. Jacobs will do a thorough consultation to determine whether this treatment might increase your chances of becoming pregnant.