Assisted hatching is a procedure designed to improve embryonic implantation rates. It is performed in conjunction with an in vitro fertilization cycle (IVF) , where an embryo is created as a result of FSH stimulation, egg retrieval, and fertilization.
AH requires that a small hole be etched in the embryonic membrane or outer shell of the embryo, known as the zona pellucida. It is theorized that this hole makes it easier for the embryo to “hatch” out of its protective membrane and embed into the endometrial lining.
The hole can be produced chemically using Acid Tyrode’s solution, mechanically, or with a laser. Creating an opening in the membrane does not usually affect the embryos survivability. Assisted hatching is most often considered in patients who fail repeated IVF attempts, older women (over the age of 36), when poor quality embryos are suspected or when the zona pellucida is thicker than normal.