Assisted Hatching with FET

The last time we saw our clinic we were introduced to the idea of assisted hatching. We have one more attempt left at FET (frozen embryo transfer) and it was advised that we could try AH (assisted hatching) to increase our chances of finally leaving with a baby. I had come across AH in my research but as it had never been recommended to us before hadn’t given it any further thought, but our nurse thinks that it might work for us. She explained that if our embryologist thought our embryos needed an extra push in the right direction, she would perform AH. I say if because AH depends on the outer layer condition of the embryo; if the outer layer looks ‘tough’ then AH is appropriate but if it looks ‘thin’ or ‘fine’ then maybe it isn’t, it’s very much an ‘on the day’ decision. So what exactly is AH? This is what the HFEA state;

Before an embryo can attach to the wall of the womb, it has to break out or ‘hatch’ from its outer layer called the zona pellucida.
It has been suggested that making a hole in or thinning this outer layer may help embryos to ‘hatch’, increasing the chances of the woman becoming pregnant in some cases.

assisted hatching

Ok so that makes sense, although I’d never been aware of that much detail before. I now understand that a small amount of special acid is put on the outer layer to wear it away, allowing the embryo to free itself more easily for implantation. The site continues however, to say…

However, assisted hatching does not improve the quality of embryos.
The NHS guidelines on fertility, issued by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), say:
‘Assisted hatching is not recommended because it has not been shown to improve pregnancy rates.’
The guidelines also mention that further research is needed to find out whether assisted hatching can have an effect on live birth rates and to examine the consequences for children born as a result of this procedure.

Now that statement that it’s not recommended because it has not been shown to improve pregnancy rates worried me if I’m honest. The AH procedure costs an extra £250 and although infertility isn’t about the money….money is important, and we have never had any help from the NHS so we’re skint basically. I then noticed though that the above was dated 27 March 2009! So surely after 3 years there are more facts and findings, and that’s why my clinic are offering it 🙂 Our nurse also said to us that everyone who had been given the AH procedure at their clinic had ended up pregnant. Wow! That’s an awesome statistic. Trouble is I’m the type of person who then thinks ‘ah, so I’m going to be the one that balances out the stats and doesn’t get pregnant’. I don’t mean that to sound negative (I’m a ridiculously positive person) just realistic. All of us on an infertility journey are secretly petrified of the question ‘am I the one who doesn’t make it?’

I am exhausted by the last 6 years. Utterly drained of emotion, fed up of the needles, drugs and scans, and the next attempt will be our last. We are nearing the end of our journey. So if trying AH will help our Potentials to snuggle in and implant then that’s what I’ll do.

Has anyone else tried AH or know anything of interest? Do please share your stories if you have.


10 responses to this post.

  1. Jodie – my heart goes out to you. My next post will explain why we didn’t pursue any of this ourselves, by have huge admiration for anyone who does. I wish you all the best. x


  2. And here I am moaning about my issues when you’re facing this after 6 years. I’m really crossing my fingers, toes, legs and arms for you. You never know.. there’s also a very good chance of you supporting the success statistic!


    • Don’t be silly Mina, all our journeys are equally important wherever we are in them 😉 Moaning is GOOOOOOOOD!
      Thanks for the complete crossing of limbs xxx


      • It’s been so long since you posted that I’m wondering how you are. Just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.

      • Hi Mina, ah that’s so nice of you, thank you. I stopped posting after some ignorant and nasty reactions to my blog upset me. I won’t go into any detail but suffice to say those people are no longer an issue to me, but it did leave me reeling for a while. I have been thinking recently about starting again, as it was so well received and it did help me to be part of such an understanding community. In fact I think your comment came at the right time to give me that extra spur on 🙂
        How are you?
        Jodie xxxx

      • I really don’t understand why people have to get that way online. Who are we to judge each other during this struggle? I’m sorry you disappeared because of that but I understand. It’s not worth the stress. Thanks for logging on though to reply and let me know how you are 🙂

        I’m plodding along as normal. Jumping over hurdles when I meet them. Current status would be: Annoyed with body for holding back ovulation. :/

  3. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this struggle. It took me 6 years to carry a pregnancy, with lots of intervention, including assisted hatching. I credit assisted hatching with finally getting us our daughter. I also read that “ah does not increase chances” but there is a little more to it. From my research, it seemed that in trials where assisted hatching was applied to all embryos, there was no increase in pregnancies/births. BUT, when assisted hatching is applied thoughtfully, when the zona pellucida seems thick, it can help the embryo attach. For people with thick eggs, it can be tough for it to “break out” and hold on. Assisted hatching, as you correctly stated, does not improve the quality of the embryo. Nothing can do that. If there are genetic or cellular problems with the embryo, even assisted hatching can’t save it. Hope this helps any confusion! 🙂 Good luck!


  4. Posted by Shikha on May 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Hmm…I read ur post and the comments while searching for AH. My story is similar yours, except that I don’t have any babies 😦

    Did AH work for u?


    • Alas I am still baby-free too 😦 We eventually went down the donated eggs route, which worked and then miscarried. Our journey (meaning mine and yours and all other women similar) is such a completely gut wrenching one that even when we have success it can so quickly turn to utter pain and devastation. I have found that clinics abroad offer a much more optimistic edge, doing things that our clinic didn’t do and at half the price! Maybe worth looking into?
      Masses of luck to you, hang in there xxxxx


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