What is IVF with Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH)?

by | Jul 29, 2023 | IVF

What is Assisted Hatching?

Assisted hatching is an intricate fertility technique employed in reproductive medicine to bolster the odds of successful in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this procedure, a minuscule opening is carefully crafted in the protective outer shell of the embryo, known as the zona pellucida, employing delicate manipulative tools or laser technology.

This meticulous intervention serves as an inviting gateway for the embryo, facilitating its escape from the zona pellucida’s confines and liberating its potential to implant into the uterine wall, paving the way for a possible pregnancy. Assisted hatching is chiefly recommended for couples facing challenges related to embryo implantation, particularly in cases of advanced maternal age or when the zona pellucida appears unusually thick.

 

What is Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) in IVF?

Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) is a medical procedure aimed at aiding embryonic development during in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. This technique utilizes a focused beam of intensified light, known as a laser, to create controlled, minute openings on the outer shell of an embryo, called the zona pellucida. These micro-openings allow the embryo to potentially break free and implant more successfully in the uterine wall.

The primary objective of LAH is to enhance the likelihood of successful embryo implantation, particularly for couples facing challenges in conception due to factors like advanced maternal age or thicker zona pellucida. By employing precision laser technology, fertility specialists can delicately modify the embryo’s protective layer without causing harm to the embryonic cells.

LAH is thought to facilitate the hatching process, which is when the embryo naturally breaks free from its zona pellucida to attach itself to the uterine lining. By assisting this hatching, the chances of successful implantation and subsequent pregnancy are potentially increased.

When is Assisted Hatching Done in IVF?

Assisted Hatching is employed at a crucial stage in the IVF process. After egg retrieval and fertilization, the embryos are cultured for a few days. During this time, they develop into blastocysts. At this point, the embryo is ready to break out of its shell and implant into the uterine lining. However, some embryos have thicker shells or may have difficulty hatching on their own, making it challenging for them to attach to the uterus.

 

Who are Ideal Candidates for Assisted Hatching:

The decision to opt for Assisted Hatching is not arbitrary; it is based on a careful assessment of individual circumstances. Candidates who may benefit from this technique include:

  1. Advanced Maternal Age Warriors: As women age, the quality of their eggs diminishes. Older women undergoing IVF may have embryos with thicker zona pellucida, necessitating assisted hatching.
  2. Thick Zona Pellucida Troubles: Some embryos naturally develop a thicker outer shell, making it harder for them to break free. Assisted Hatching aids them in this crucial endeavor.
  3. Previous IVF Failures: For couples who have experienced repeated IVF failures, Assisted Hatching may offer a ray of hope. It can potentially enhance the chances of successful implantation.
  4. Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) Candidates: Frozen embryos often develop a tougher zona pellucida during freezing. Assisted Hatching may be considered for better results in FET cycles.
  5. Poor Embryo Quality Pioneers: Embryos that exhibit slower growth or show signs of poor quality may benefit from this technique, increasing the odds of successful implantation.

It’s essential to consult with a qualified fertility specialist who can assess the specific needs of each individual or couple to determine if Assisted Hatching is the right path to take.

 

Assisted Hatching Methods:

Assisted Hatching Methods

Assisted Hatching Methods

The world of Assisted Hatching offers various methods, each tailored to suit specific embryo requirements. The most common techniques include:

  1. Mechanical Assisted Hatching: This method involves the use of a specialized microneedle or laser to create a small opening in the zona pellucida. It requires a steady hand and precision to ensure a controlled and safe procedure. Once the hole is created, the embryo is ready to break free from its shell and continue its journey toward implantation.
  2. Chemical-Assisted Hatching: In chemical Assisted Hatching, an acidic solution is carefully applied to the zona pellucida. This controlled exposure softens the shell, making it easier for the embryo to hatch. The timing and concentration of the chemical are crucial factors, as excessive exposure can harm the embryo.
  3. Laser-Assisted Hatching: Laser technology has revolutionized the field of Assisted Hatching. A focused laser beam is used to create an opening in the zona pellucida with incredible precision and safety. This method has gained popularity due to its efficiency and reduced risk of damage to the embryo.

 

Assisted Hatching Procedure Step by Step:

Step 1: Stimulation and Retrieval

The journey begins with hormonal stimulation to encourage the production of multiple eggs. The eggs are carefully monitored and retrieved when they reach the optimal size. This is a crucial step as it ensures an adequate number of healthy eggs for the IVF process.

Step 2: Fertilization

In the laboratory, the retrieved eggs are exposed to high-quality sperm, and fertilization takes place. The fertilized eggs, now embryos, are observed closely as they grow and develop.

Step 3: Embryo Development

Over the next few days, the embryologists monitor the embryos’ progress. Ideally, the embryos will reach the blastocyst stage, where they consist of two distinct parts: the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm.

Step 4: Assisted Hatching

At this critical juncture, assisted hatching comes into play. A small opening is created in the zona pellucida using a precise laser. This gentle procedure mimics the natural hatching process, aiding the embryo in breaking free from its protective shell.

Step 5: Embryo Transfer

With the assistance of a thin catheter, the hatched embryos are delicately placed into the hopeful mother’s uterus. Now, it’s a waiting game, hoping for the embryos to implant and pregnancy to occur.

 

Assisted Hatching with Frozen Embryo Transfer:

A frozen embryo transfer (FET) is an option for couples who have surplus embryos from a previous IVF cycle or wish to delay embryo transfer for medical or personal reasons. Assisted hatching can also be performed on frozen embryos before transfer, increasing the chances of successful implantation.

 

Advantages of Laser-Assisted Hatching:

  1. Improving Implantation Rates: One of the most significant benefits of laser-assisted hatching is its potential to enhance embryo implantation rates. By creating a small opening in the zona pellucida, the embryo can more easily hatch and attach to the uterine lining, increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
  2. Addressing Age-Related Fertility Decline: As women age, the quality of their eggs naturally declines, making it more challenging for embryos to implant. Laser-assisted hatching offers hope to older women who are trying to conceive by giving embryos an added advantage during the implantation process.
  3. Overcoming Previous IVF Failures: For couples who have experienced unsuccessful IVF cycles in the past, assisted hatching can be a game-changer. By facilitating hatching, this technique may address the factors that previously hindered implantation.
  4. Assisting Frozen Embryo Transfer: For couples opting for FET, laser-assisted hatching significantly improves the chances of a successful transfer. The procedure helps the embryos adapt to the uterine environment after thawing, increasing the likelihood of implantation.

 

What Are the Risks of Assisted Hatching?

While assisted hatching has shown promising results, it’s essential to acknowledge that all medical procedures carry some risk. The potential risks associated with assisted hatching include:

  1. Multiple Pregnancy: During IVF, multiple embryos may be transferred to increase the chances of pregnancy. However, this could lead to multiple pregnancies, which carry higher risks for both the mother and the babies.
  2. Zona Damage: The laser used to create an opening in the zona pellucida must be skillfully applied to prevent damage to the embryo. In rare cases, the procedure may cause harm to the embryo, reducing its viability.
  3. Ectopic Pregnancy: Assisted hatching does not eliminate the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants outside the uterus. This condition can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
  4. No Guarantee of Success: Despite the advancements in assisted hatching, success is not guaranteed. The procedure’s effectiveness may vary depending on individual circumstances and fertility factors.

 

Success Rates of Laser-Assisted Hatching IVF in India:

The success rates of Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) in IVF treatment in India can vary depending on several factors, including the age of the woman, the quality of the embryos, and the expertise of the fertility clinic. On average, the success rate of IVF with Laser Assisted Hatching in India ranges from 25% to 40%.

 

Cost of Laser-Assisted Hatching in IVF:

The cost of Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) in IVF in India typically ranges from ₹15,000 to ₹30,000 per cycle. This cost is in addition to the overall cost of the IVF treatment, which can vary based on the clinic, location, and individual medical requirements.

 

Why Choose Little Angel IVF for Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) Treatment?

Opting for Little Angel IVF Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) treatment in IVF offers several advantages. The clinic has a success rate of around 35%, which is higher than the national average. The skilled medical team at Little Angel IVF has significant experience in performing LAH procedures, ensuring precision and safety.

The cost of Laser Assisted Hatching at Little Angel IVF is transparent and falls within the general price range prevalent in India, starting at ₹20,000 per cycle. Moreover, the clinic provides personalized treatment plans, taking into account the unique needs of each couple, and offers comprehensive support throughout the IVF process.

Choosing Little Angel IVF for Laser Assisted Hatching can increase the likelihood of successful embryo implantation, ultimately improving the chances of achieving a successful pregnancy for aspiring parents.

 

Conclusion

IVF with Laser Assisted Hatching (LAH) is a cutting-edge technique that has revolutionized assisted reproductive technology. By using a precise laser to create a small opening in the embryo’s outer layer, LAH enhances the chances of successful implantation during IVF procedures. This innovative procedure offers renewed hope to couples facing infertility challenges and has shown promising results in increasing pregnancy rates, especially in cases of advanced maternal age or previous failed IVF attempts. As technology continues to advance, it is essential to strike a balance between innovation and ethical considerations to ensure that this remarkable technique remains accessible and beneficial to those seeking to build their families.

 

F.A.Q

Q: How successful is IVF with assisted hatching?

A: IVF with assisted hatching has shown promising success rates, with improved chances of successful embryo implantation in some cases.

Q: Is assisted hatching necessary for IVF?

A: Assisted hatching is not always essential for IVF, as successful pregnancies can occur without this technique. It is usually considered in specific circumstances, such as advanced maternal age or previous failed IVF attempts.

Q: Does assisted hatching make implantation faster?

A: Assisted hatching may facilitate embryo implantation by creating a small opening in the embryo’s outer shell (zona pellucida), but it does not significantly accelerate the overall implantation process.

Q: Is assisted hatching necessary?

A: Assisted hatching is not a mandatory procedure for all IVF cases. Its requirement is assessed on an individual basis, taking into account factors such as maternal age, embryo quality, and previous IVF outcomes.

Q: What are the risks of assisted hatching?

A: Although generally considered safe, assisted hatching carries some risks, such as potential damage to the embryo during the process or an increased risk of monozygotic (identical) twinning.

Q: What are the problems with assisted hatching?

A: Assisted hatching can lead to a few concerns, including the potential for damaging the embryo’s delicate structure and the likelihood of creating multiple embryos with compromised viability.

Q: Are hatching embryos better?

A: Hatching embryos may show improved implantation potential in some cases, but it is not a definitive indicator of overall embryo quality. The decision to perform assisted hatching depends on various factors and should be carefully considered by fertility experts.

Q: How much does assisted hatching IVF cost?

A: The financial investment for assisted hatching during IVF can differ based on the clinic, location, and additional services. It’s crucial to inquire about specific costs with the chosen fertility center to get a clearer picture.

Q: Can an embryo split after hatching?

A: Following hatching, there is a rare possibility of an embryo undergoing a process called “monozygotic splitting,” where it divides into two embryos. This occurrence can result in identical twins.

Q: Does assisted hatching increase twins?

A: Assisted hatching might lead to a slightly elevated chance of identical twinning due to the potential embryo splitting mentioned earlier. However, it generally does not significantly increase the likelihood of fraternal twins.

Q: Is ICSI the same as assisted hatching?

A: No, ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and assisted hatching are distinct procedures. ICSI involves the direct injection of a sperm into an egg, while assisted hatching focuses on creating a small opening in the embryo’s outer shell to aid implantation.

Q: How long does implantation take after assisted hatching?

A: The implantation process following assisted hatching can vary from woman to woman and embryo to embryo. Typically, implantation occurs within 1 to 5 days after the hatching procedure.

Q: Is assisted hatching good or bad?

A: The benefits of assisted hatching must be weighed against potential risks and individual circumstances. It can be beneficial for some couples, particularly those with previous IVF failures or specific age-related factors. However, it is not necessary for all IVF cases and should be discussed thoroughly with fertility specialists.

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    Dr Mona Dahiya

    Dr Mona Dahiya

    IVF Specialist & Consultant

    Dr Mona Dahiya has performed over 5,000+ IVF cycles and is considered a global expert in IVF, ICSI, IUI and male fertility treatment. She is an eminent writer on Infertility Treatment and has over 100 Publications in both International and National Journals. Dr Mona Dahiya has immensely contributed to the field of infertility through her Research and articles.

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