The shell of the embryo
The early embryo is surrounded by a protective shell, which is known as the zona pellucida (ovum shell). During “hatching”, the embryo leaves this shell five to six days after fertilisation, in order to implant into the endometrium. Sometimes this protective shell is too robust and too thick, which means that the embryo has difficulty hatching.
The help of a laser
“Assisted hatching” is a procedure that aims to make it easier for the embryos to leave the ovum shell and to implant in the uterus. On the day of embryo transfer, the ovum shell is opened under a microscope with the help of a fine laser beam and the embryo is thereby enabled to hatch more easily.
If an embryo has already developed into a blastocyst, then its shell has already become a lot thinner. In blastocysts, therefore, no “assisted hatching” is carried out.
Assisted hatching is used in the case of the thickening and hardening of the ovum shell. Such thickening and hardening of the ovum shell is most frequently observed in women aged over 37 years and in ova after cryopreservation. The method is also used after repeated embryo transfer without the occurrence of a pregnancy.
There are no disadvantages to be expected from this treatment. According to the current state of knowledge, neither the embryo itself nor its hereditary material are impaired.
You can find an extensive study on the topic of “assisted hatching” at: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep31228
The costs of “assisted hatching” are not assumed by the statutory or private health insurance companies.
In a personal consultation we can clarify whether this method is also recommended for you.