Assisted hatching is a micromanipulative ART procedure designed to help embryos “hatch out” of their “’shell”, the zona pellucida, and implant into the endometrium.
Once the embryos mature and are ready for transfer, the embryologist gently makes a small hole in the zona pellucida. This opening can be made with a microscopic needle, chemically using Acid Tyrode’s solution, or with a laser. The assisted hatching procedure does not damage the embryo.
Opinions differ as to the effectiveness of assisted hatching and not all programs offer the procedure. It is often used in older females, those who have failed previous IVF cycles, and when poor embryo quality or abnormally thickened zona pellucidae are present.