IVF is a boon for the hundreds and thousands of infertile individuals and couples in India. Not only has finding a quality IVF center in India become easy these days, but the charges of IVF procedure in India has gone down tremendously over the last decade as well. The result is a test tube baby treatment that is rich in quality and low on cost. And while the IVF success rate in India is among the best in the world, there are always cases where IVF alone is not enough to help infertile couples conceive a child. A host of techniques have been formulated over the years to deal with this shortcoming and laser assisted hatching (LAH), is one such effective method.
After an egg is fertilized by a sperm, the resulting embryo sets off on a 4-day long journey from the fallopian tubes to the uterus. Once inside, the embryo needs to attach itself to the uterine wall. This process is known as implantation. However, for this process to take place successfully, the embryo has to first break out from its outer layer which is known as the ‘zona pellucida’. Failure to hatch from this layer can reduce the chances of pregnancy or prevent it altogether. With assisted hatching, IVF success rates of achieving pregnancy go up significantly.
A Laser assisted hatching procedure is based on the premise that thinning this layer or creating a hole in it might assist embryos in ‘hatching’, which can further facilitate pregnancy through IVF or ICSI. In other words, the hatched embryo transfer success rate is higher compared to that of the natural embryo hatching process.
Abbreviated as LAH, the procedure is offered as an option under the following conditions,
A surrogacy clinic in India can choose to subject an embryo to the LAH process with the aim of increasing the chances of successful implantation in the womb of the surrogate. Successful implantation in the first round itself has a notable impact on costs related to surrogacy and associated procedures.
The procedure is performed as part of an IVF/ICSI cycle when the embryo is still in the lab (3rd day after IVF). It involves using mechanical or laser-enabled methods to create a hole in the embryo’s outer layer or make it thinner.
During laser hatching, the embryo’s outer shell is penetrated using short bursts of laser pulses. Care is taken to fire the laser away from the embryo’s cells so that they are not harmed. The entire process is fairly quick with only a few seconds required for each embryo. This minimizes the amount of time an embryo is exposed outside the incubator. Also, It contributes to a high assisted hatching success rate.
Laser hatching in IVF is done as part of the treatment cycle. For patients, a normal IVF/ICSI cycle and a laser-assisted hatching IVF/ICSI cycle are virtually the same. This is because the embryo is worked upon before it is transferred to the patient’s womb. Once laser assisted hatching is successfully accomplished, the embryo is transferred just as it’s done during a normal IVF cycle.
Initial fears about laser assisted hatching revolved around the impact that firing laser pulses might have upon an embryo’s cells. However, research has proved that babies born through IVF and LAH are no more likely to suffer from abnormalities than babies born through IVF without LAH. That is because, during laser assisted hatching (LAH), only the embryo’s outer shell is treated while the embryo itself is left untouched. Moreover, hatching blastocyst transfer success rates are high as the process facilitates easier implantation, which is necessary for achieving pregnancy.
As far as costs are concerned, advancements in the field have meant that couples can give LAH a try. Especially if they are coming off multiple failed IVF cycles, LAH is indicated. In terms of laser-assisted hatching cost, India is among the least expensive destinations in the World.