Assisted Hatching

Within the process of in vitro fertilisation, different procedures often need to take place to ensure a successful result.  Many of these are necessary due to the fact that fertilisation takes place outside of the mother’s body, without the many helpful factors that the this body provides.  One such procedure that is often required in fertility treatments is assisted hatching (often abbreviated to AH).
In the natural process, fertilisation of an egg by a sperm cell results in the outer shell of the egg quickly hardening to prevent other sperm cells from getting in (which would result in an overload of DNA and the potential failure of the embryo).This process takes place as the egg is travelling towards the uterus.Once it reaches thee uterus, this hardened outer shell (called the zona pellucida) breaks down to allow the egg to attach itself to the lining of the uterus and begin to develop into a fetus. When this takes place, the process is known as ‘hatching’.
In the case of in vitro fertilisation, the egg’s outer shell often does not break down as readily once the egg is implanted into the uterus of the woman who is to carry the pregnancy to term.This can result in complications with the pregnancy (or failure of the embryo to develop). In order to assist the egg in breaking down its outer shell, assisted hatching is performed, either with the use of a mild acidic solution, or by using a laser or microscopic needle to create a small hole in the shell before implantation. This greatly increases the chances that the shell will break down as normal once in the uterus, allowing for normal development to proceed from there.
While Cape Town offers very cheap fertility treatments compared to the rest of the world, many people can afford to try in vitro fertilisation only once. Assisted hatching is one measure that is taken to ensure that the process is successful the first time, and is therefore a highly important part of the overall procedure.
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