In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In order for the embryo to become implanted in the woman’s uterus so that the pregnancy may commence, it is necessary for the embryo to hatch, i.e. to breach its protective layer, known as the zona pellucida. This normally happens in the blastocyst stage, on the 5th or 6th day after fertilization.
However, sometimes the zona pellucida is tougher or thicker than normal, and as a result the embryo cannot hatch and become implanted in the uterus. In these cases, the embryologist employees a technique known as “assisted hatching”. With this technique, hatching is artificially assisted by making an opening on each embryo’s outer zone. This is accomplished using special laser equipment. The use of laser is superior to other techniques (use of acids or mechanical opening), due to its great precision combined with the least possibility of damage to the embryo during the procedure.