There is a range of medications and procedures used in an attempt to improve results in IVF cycles. In fact, Australian clinics are known to use up to 21 different “add-ons”. However, recent Australian research has shown that only four of these appear to have even moderate quality evidence of benefitting.
Embryo hatching, is an advanced scientific technique that involves using a laser to gently thin the outer shell of the egg (known as the zona). In some cases, particularly in older women, it is thought the thickness of the zona can impede implantation. It is thought that if the embryo can “hatch out” of the shell more easily, it may have a better chance of implanting inside the uterus.
In an IVF cycle, the final step of the process is an embryo transfer. Once the best embryo is selected for transfer, the embryo is taken from the culture dish, which contains EmbryoGlue, in preparation for transfer. Once it is ready for transfer, the embryo is placed inside a thin tube called a catheter. This is the then passed through the opening of the womb and the embryo is transferred into the womb, typically using ultrasound guidance.
Placing the embryo in EmbryoGlue before transfer can give the embryo an even better chance of implanting. This is because EmbryoGlue mimics the natural environment in the womb, with nutrients and energy substrates that closely resembles the environment in the womb at the time of implantation.
However, EmbryoGlue is not actually glue, but consists of a high concentration of components that are known to promote implantation. These include hyaluronan, a natural substance and a key molecule in embryo development and implantation. The inner wall of the womb and the embryo itself have special molecules on their surface and hyaluronan binds to these molecules and acts like a bridge between the embryo and the womb, which encourages the embryo to implant.
A process called “androgen priming” has a biological basis for improving poor response during ovarian stimulation. However, while the administration of exogenous androgens may have effects on early stages of follicle development, they are unlikely to affect the androgen concentrations in more mature follicles.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) ICSI, also known as PICSI (Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is another technique used to help select the best sperm for the ICSI procedure. Sperm that can bind to hyaluronic acid (a substance found naturally in your body) have low levels of DNA fragmentation. Choosing the best sperm increases the chances of a healthy embryo, which in turn, has a higher chance of implanting.
At Queensland Fertility Group, we use hyaluronic acid in our embryo transfers and it has been shown to improve birth rates. The rates of success of IVF have also been improving over the years and there are now a number of add-on procedures and medications that may help in the quest for a baby of your own.
My team and I would be delighted to assist you on your fertility and pregnancy journey. Call (07) 3353 3100 to book an appointment today.