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Laser-Assisted Hatching (LAH)

Women Hopes | Apr 02, 2020

 

If you have undertaken IVF treatment, then undoubtedly you know that a fertilized egg cannot assure you a pregnancy. When the embryo is transferred to a woman’s uterus it is required to implant on the uterine wall to achieve a successful pregnancy. Sometimes the embryo doesn’t hatch and implants, resulting in IVF failure.

Laser-assisted hatching is an advanced technology used with an IVF procedure to increase the rate of successful implantation of the embryo to the uterine wall. If you are suffering from IVF failure due to unexplained reasons or poor prognosis, you will be advised for laser-assisted hatching. The aim of LAH is to overcome all the odds that are stopping implantation or successful pregnancy.

What is Laser-Assisted Hatching Treatment?

In the IVF procedure, fertilized eggs are retained in the lab for 2 to 5 days, letting them divide and develop into an embryo. A healthy embryo is then transferred to a woman’s uterus to attain pregnancy. During this procedure of development, the embryo gets bounded by a protective shell called zona pellucida. For implantation to occur, this protective shell breaks out naturally. But in some circumstances, the outer layer of the embryo toughens, making it difficult to hatch and implant. It becomes one of the causes of infertility in women.

In laser-assisted hatching, a small crack is made before introducing the embryo in the uterus in the hope that this hatching aids in implantation of the embryo. This process helps in successful implantation leading to pregnancy.

When is LAH Recommended?

If one is undergoing IVF, it does not mean they will be recommended LAH. After analyzing all the medical records and infertility history, the fertility doctor can only determine if LAH can help you.

Generally, in the following conditions, assisted hatching can improve the pregnancy rate.

• If one has experienced two or more failed IVF cycles.

• If one has increased FSH level

• The quality of the embryo is poor.

• When the age is 38 or older

• Unexplained infertility

Older women tend to produce eggs with thickened zona pellucida or outer shell. The same is seen in women with an elevated level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In such circumstances, the egg will not hatch and fails to implant in the womb. Assisted hatching can be helpful in all these infertility issues.

 

Also, studies confirm that frozen or thawed embryos have hard zona pellucida making it problematic to hatch and implant. Laser-assisted hatching will make a gap in the outer shell, making it easy for the embryo to implant.

Laser-Assisted Hatching Technique

LAH procedure is done on the 3rd day after the IVF cycle when the embryo is in the lab. In this procedure, a specialized laser is used to create an opening in zona pellucida. Laser technology lets a more controlled approach and is the securest and most effective method. Though creating a small crack in the zona pellucida seems like a simple technique, it involves accurate procedures and a skilled technician to do it. The embryology lab needs to have specialized instruments to do this. The whole process is quick and takes only a few seconds.

In this procedure, laser shots are used that softens the zona pellucida, which aids to create an opening. The laser should not come in direct contact with the embryo. This is performed with utmost delicacy and precision. This procedure ensures the safety of the embryo.

Advantages of LAH

When Laser-assisted hatching is more accurate as compared to other hatching techniques. LAH method does not require manual handling of the embryo; hence there are fewer chances of any damage. Accuracy of laser is preset in the program, which guarantees the safety of the embryo. Laser-assisted hatching improves the success rate of pregnancy.

Risks Associated with LAH

Laser-assisted hatching intervenes with embryos natural hatching procedure; hence it entails a few risks. One of the potential risks is embryo might get severely injured. This can occur before the embryo transfer or after. In any case, pregnancy will not happen. Another risk is, even after LAH, the embryo may fail to hatch completely.

LAH can also cause in multiple pregnancies. Generally, IVF is linked with multiple pregnancies, and the LAH procedure increases this risk further. This leads to high-risk pregnancies but is observed in less than 1% of cases.

If you are questioning that LAH might result in congenital defects in babies, this is not true. Many studies have been performed, which showed that the LAH procedure does not cause any congenital disability.

Does LAH increase IVF success rate?

Laser-assisted hatching raises the chances of successful implantation and pregnancy. If you are facing IVF failure, there is a chance of attaining success through assisted hatching. Discuss with your fertility doctor to make the right decision.

As explained above the hatching is a compulsory process needed for pregnancy. But due to some reason, if embryo fails to implant, LAH becomes the treatment option. In couples who had an unsuccessful IVF cycle, this LAH technique holds a chance to get a positive pregnancy. Performed by an experienced fertility doctor or embryologist, laser-assisted hatching might help you to conceive conquering the problem of thick shell embryos. It can improve the chances of implantation, pregnancy, and birth rates. Using the LAH technique with IVF has led to significant success in older couples and in IVF failure cases. It has also enhanced pregnancy rates in cryopreserved embryos.

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