One of the most frustrating aspects of assisted reproductive technology for patients and fertility professionals alike is having to deal with failure. This is especially true in couples who have attempted assisted reproductive procedures many times, and also in those whose time is running out because of their age. Now, a recently developed technique, assisted hatching, is offering new hope to couples who fall into these categories.
Assisted hatching was developed from the observation that embryos which had a thin zona pellucida (shell) had a higher rate of implantation during in vitro fertilization. It was postulated that creating a minor defect in the zona might result in a greater chance of the embryo "hatching," or shedding its shell, allowing for a better chance ofimplantation in the endometrium.
This relatively small variation in the IVF procedure has yielded dramatic results.
The bottom line for couples who fall into the "poor prognosis" category because of age (but under age 43), previously failed cycles or elevated FSH levels on the third day of their menstrual cycle is that they should consider adding assisted hatching to the regular regimen of in vitro fertilization. It is important to be sure that the center they choose has enough experience with the technique to assure they have passed the early part of the learning curve and are achieving an enhanced success rate. Finally, couples in which the woman has passed her 43rd birthday should consider egg donation as the most likely method to achieve success.