Assisted Hatching is the process of helping the embryo break its hardened shell with a laser, so it can implant easier in the uterus.
The embryo is surrounded and protected by a shell called the zona pellucida. Shortly before the embryo nests in the uterine mucosa, the zona pellucida opens - with the help of special enzymes and with the pressure of the embryo's growth - and the embryo "hatches".
Some studies indicate that the in-vitro culture of the embryo - and cryopreservation - can lead to hardening of the zona pellucida and so complicate the "hatching" or prevent its occurrence.
A theory exists that by thinning or opening of the zona pellucida, the hatching of the embryo would be eased. Nowadays the safest method for partially thinning the zona pellucida is the laser technique. If required, this can be carried out in the in the fertilty clinic of your choice in a routine procedure.
The prerequisite for implantation and thus for a successful pregnancy is a hatched embryo. During fertility treatment, it can be helpful to support the embryo in hatching. We offer assisted hatching in our TFP fertility clinics as part of artificial insemination through IVF and ICSI.
A fertilised egg must implant in the lining of the uterus on the fifth day after fertilisation for pregnancy to begin. Implantation only works if the egg has previously hatched from the egg membrane. In order to hatch, enzymes dissolve the egg membrane, also called zona pellucida, from the inside. The growing embryo exerts additional pressure on the egg membrane and ultimately causes it to rupture.
If an embryo is fertilised outside the female body, it is possible that the composition of the egg membrane changes. For example, either in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or cryopreservation can cause the egg membrane to be too thick or too firm. In both cases, the enzymes and the growing embryo are not sufficient to penetrate the egg on their own and settle in the lining of the uterus. Assisted hatching prepares the egg membrane so that the embryo can hatch more easily.
We recommend Assisted Hatching in the following cases:
to patients with multiple unsuccessful IVF or ICSI attempts, in spite of them having "good embryos"
to patients over 38 years of age
if embryos have a thickened zona pellucida, or if embryos that developed from cryopreserved fertilised egg cells are transferred.
Our team at the fertility clinics in Vienna, Wels and Klagenfurt routinely supports you with assisted hatching. Our experienced doctors will discuss with you whether the treatment is suitable for your individual case. Furthermore, our team will inform you about the individual costs. These can vary depending on the number of treatment cycles and your insurance.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply contact the clinic of your choice - we look forward to hearing from you!