Special IVF laboratory methods increase the chance of pregnancy
If the couple is unable to conceive or one or both partners are struggling with infertility, assisted reproduction is the only way to have their own baby. Reproduction clinics commonly offer standard treatments and artificial insemination. In addition, there are special laboratory methods that increase the chances of successful fertilisation of the egg, its nesting in the uterus and successful development of the foetus. These assisted reproduction techniques include, for example, prolonged cultivation, assisted hatching, EmbryoGen, EmbryoGlue, and many others. What methods can be used to increase the chances of getting pregnant?
Within the IVF (in vitro fertilisation) process, the egg is first fertilised with sperm that has been selected from a sperm count. An egg can be obtained directly from a woman who is unable to conceive or as part of an egg donation. The same goes for sperm. They can come from a partner or a donor. After fertilisation, the embryo is cultivated in a laboratory. In the case of artificial insemination covered by health insurance, the embryo transfer (transfer of the egg to the uterus) is performed after about three days.
However, researchers have found that in the case of natural conception, the embryo spends about five to six days in the fallopian tubes before descending into the uterus. Therefore, it is advisable to perform the transfer around this time, as this best replicates the natural development of the embryo. This can be achieved thanks to prolonged cultivation. Thanks to this, it is also possible to select the highest quality embryos that are already in the blastocyst stage.
Pros of prolonged cultivation:
- ideal conditions for attachment of the embryo to the uterine mucosa
- higher success rate of artificial insemination
- better conditions for embryo freezing and subsequent frozen embryo transfer
The embryo is encased in a protective layer that ruptures a few days after fertilising the egg with sperm. This allows the embryo to nest in the uterus on the way from the ovaries. If the growth of the embryo does not cause the protective layer to rupture, the woman cannot conceive. And this is where assisted hatching comes to the rescue. It is an IVF micromanipulation technique in which the protective layer is artificially compromised, allowing it to rupture. This increases the chances of the embryo nesting and thus falling pregnant. In artificial insemination, assisted hatching is performed just before the fertilised egg is implanted in the uterus.
When to choose assisted hatching:
- after several unsuccessful cycles
- during frozen embryo transfer
- in the case of older patients
EmbryoGlue is a medium that acts as a tissue adhesive. Due to its properties, it mimics the environment in the uterus during natural fertilisation and allows a better attachment of the fertilised egg, which was transferred to the uterus during artificial insemination. It essentially sticks to the lining of the uterus, increasing the chances of fertilisation.
EmbryoGlue is also very rich in proteins and hyaluronic acid. Proteins provide the growing embryo with sufficient vitamins, nutrients and hormones and give it energy for further development and growth. Hyaluronic acid, which is considered a miracle of nature, has a beneficial effect on the formation of new blood vessels.
Pros of EmbryoGlue:
- higher chance of getting pregnant
- easier attachment of the embryo
- improved nutrition of the fertilised egg
In women who have had miscarriages in previous IVF cycles, there is a risk that additional embryos will not develop well under standard conditions. EmbryoGen is a special culture medium that contains substances that support embryo growth. These are mainly proteins that a woman's body naturally produces during a trouble - free pregnancy. However, if a woman has miscarried in the past, a lack of these growth factors may be the cause.
Spontaneous abortion is the result of an imbalance between the endocrine and immune systems, which leads to poor development of the embryo, placenta and uterus. This imbalance can then lead to problems in the growth of the fertilised egg and in many cases to its expulsion from the body. EmbryoGen is one of the ways to supply these substances to the body, to help the embryo develop better and to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Pros of EmbryoGen medium:
- optimal conditions for embryo development
- reducing the risk of miscarriage
- higher chance of a successful pregnancy
The endometrial scratch method is another way to facilitate egg nesting in the uterus and increase the chance of pregnancy. The endometrium is the tissue in the uterus into which the egg nests and embeds. Endometrial scratch can cause minor injury to the lining of the uterus, thus irritating it. The whole process takes place by inserting a special instrument into the uterus to perform the scratch. The female body responds to this injury and begins to produce substances that help the embryo attach. The whole process can be performed repeatedly.
Embryo attachment is considered one of the most important factors for a successful pregnancy throughout the IVF process. If a woman is unable to conceive even after implanting quality and selected fertilised eggs several times, endometrial scratch is a possible solution. According to some medical studies, scratch doubles the chances of egg attachment.
Pros of the endometrial scratch method:
- higher chance of embryo attachment
- the process can be repeated
- reduces the risk of miscarriage
This article is translated from Czech original to English language by Bobby Pacewicz.