In the world of assisted reproductive technology, doctors are always looking for ways to improve the outcome. Laser assisted hatching is one way that’s bringing success rates up when it comes to IVF. So, what is this new procedure and how does it help you in your journey to grow your family? Let’s find out.
What is Laser Assisted Hatching?
Embryologists developed laser assisted hatching, or LAH, for use during an IVF cycle. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, it begins developing into an embryo. A membrane surrounds the developing embryo. In some instances, the membrane is very tough making it difficult for the embryo to hatch and implant in the uterus. Unless the embryo hatches out of this membrane pregnancy won’t happen. LAH helps the embryo break out of the membrane (zone pellucid).
The laser provides the ideal tool for assisting the embryo during the hatching. Some assisted hatching techniques use an acid solution or physical force to create a weak spot in the membrane. Once doctors and embryologists began using the laser tool assisted hatching became much safer and more precise. It also increased the success rates for IVF quite a bit, according to a study published by the NIH.
Laser Precision Means Less Risk
Because the precision involved in using a laser reduces any risk of damage to the cells of the embryo it’s the tool of choice for doctors. The laser’s precision also means the assisted hatching takes mere seconds, lessening the time the embryo spends outside the incubator.
Once the laser weakens the outer membrane, it makes an easy way out for the embryo. This improves the chances for success during implantation. LAH is one more step toward a positive IVF outcome.
How LAH Procedure Works
During an LAH procedure an embryologist sends a quick and concise beam of light, using a microscope, into the membrane shell of the embryo. This laser penetration creates a small gap in the membrane. The gap provides a way for the embryo to break through.
Your embryologist typically performs the procedure three days after fertilization. The embryonic cells begin to divide at this stage. The entire process takes mere seconds and on transfer day the doctor places your embryo(s) into your uterus where they attach and grow until delivery. Thanks to LAH this event is much more likely.
Who are Candidates for LAH?
Doctors don’t recommend LAH to everyone undergoing IVF. Usually, your doctor recommends LAH to those whose embryos are more likely to experience difficulty hatching. Some of the factors your doctor considers prior to suggesting LAH during your IVF cycle:
- You are over the age of 35
- Your levels of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are high.
- You’ve experienced previous IVF cycles where your embryo failed to implant.
- You have a diagnosis of endometriosis.
- You’re using previously frozen embryos (cryogenic preservation may toughen the membranes surrounding the embryos).
- Poor embryo quality.
These are just a few factors determining who may benefit from LAH. Your doctor performs a thorough assessment determining whether or not LAH could be of help to you.
Risks and Benefits of Laser Assisted Hatching
Even with the precision and accuracy with which your embryologist performs laser assisted hatching there are some risks, although they are rare. The embryo could sustain damage which may destroy the embryo, cause birth defects to the embryo or result in identical twins. Multiple births carry risks of their own to both mother and babies.
Of course, when performed by an experienced embryologist LAH greatly improves your chance for a successful IVF cycle. Because there is minimal handling involved the risk of a mishap lessens. The precision laser tool provides for a rapid and exact and much gentler procedure than the acid bath or mechanical force. For those who’ve experienced a previous IVF cycle that didn’t result in pregnancy due to implantation failure LAH offers a better path to a positive outcome.
We’re Focused on Your Success
At LA IVF we work to improve your odds for a successful IVF outcome. Our skilled professional staff partner with you as a team with one goal in mind; helping you grow your family. For more information on laser assisted hatching or any of our other procedures please contact LA IVF today. Let’s find a way toward success together.