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Assisted hatching and its role in IVF success: International practices

Assisted hatching and its role in IVF success: International practices

In the realm of assisted reproductive technology (ART), in vitro fertilization (IVF) stands out as a beacon of hope for countless couples grappling with infertility. A key advancement that has emerged in this field is assisted hatching (AH), a technique designed to enhance the success rates of IVF procedures. This article provides an in-depth exploration of assisted hatching, examining its role in IVF success and how it is practiced across the globe.

Understanding Assisted Hatching

Assisted hatching is a laboratory procedure used in conjunction with IVF treatments. It involves making a small opening in the zona pellucida, the outer shell of an embryo, before the embryo is transferred to the uterus. The rationale behind this technique is to facilitate the embryo's ability to hatch out of its shell, a critical step in the implantation process.

The Procedure

Assisted hatching is typically performed on the third day after fertilization, when the embryo consists of about six to eight cells. Using microscopic tools, embryologists employ various methods to create an opening in the zona pellucida. These methods include mechanical, chemical, and laser-assisted hatching, each with its advantages and specific use cases.

Benefits of Assisted Hatching

The primary benefit of assisted hatching is its potential to increase IVF success rates, particularly in certain groups of patients. It is especially beneficial for older women, those with a history of failed IVF attempts, and cases where embryos have a thicker than average zona pellucida. By facilitating the hatching process, assisted hatching can improve the chances of embryo implantation in the uterine lining, leading to a successful pregnancy.

Risks and Considerations

While assisted hatching offers benefits, it is not without risks. The procedure can potentially damage the embryo if not performed with precision. Additionally, there is a slight increase in the risk of monozygotic (identical) twins. Prospective parents should discuss the risks and benefits with their fertility specialist to make an informed decision.

International Practices in Assisted Hatching

The practice of assisted hatching varies globally, reflecting differences in regulatory environments, technology availability, and clinical approaches. In some countries, assisted hatching is a standard part of IVF treatments, while in others, it is reserved for specific cases.


European countries often adopt a cautious approach to new ART techniques, including assisted hatching. Regulations vary by country, with some nations requiring specific indications for its use. Despite these differences, assisted hatching is widely recognized and utilized across Europe, with ongoing research aimed at optimizing the procedure and outcomes.

North America

In the United States and Canada, assisted hatching is more commonly employed as part of IVF treatments. The availability of advanced technology and a less restrictive regulatory environment contribute to its widespread use. Fertility clinics in North America are at the forefront of developing and refining assisted hatching techniques, often sharing their findings at international conferences.


Asian countries showcase a dynamic range of practices in assisted hatching, driven by rapid technological advancements and varying regulatory standards. Nations like South Korea and Japan are known for their high adoption rates of ART, including assisted hatching. Meanwhile, emerging markets are quickly catching up, incorporating global best practices to improve IVF success rates.

Middle East

The Middle East has seen a growing acceptance of IVF and associated technologies, including assisted hatching. Cultural and religious considerations play a significant role in the region's approach to fertility treatments, leading to tailored practices that respect these values while embracing scientific advancements.

Future Perspectives

As research continues to evolve, the role of assisted hatching in IVF success is likely to become even more nuanced. Ongoing studies focus on identifying the patients who can benefit most from this technique, refining the methods used, and understanding the long-term outcomes for children born following assisted hatching procedures.

In conclusion, Assisted hatching represents a significant step forward in the quest to improve IVF success rates. Its careful application, tailored to the needs of individual patients, reflects the personalized nature of modern fertility treatments. As international practices continue to diverge and converge, the shared goal remains clear: to offer hope and a path to parenthood for those facing the challenges of infertility. In this global endeavor, assisted hatching is a key player, contributing to the success stories of countless families around the world.

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