Assisted hatching

Helping embryos ‘hatch out’ of their shell

HCA UK provides treatments such as hatching of embryos to help people with fertility problems to have a baby.


Assisted hatching is a procedure that is used as part of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. It involves using a laser to cut a hole in the shell of the embryo (zona pellucid) to enable implantation.

Where pregnancy fails, it is thought that it is because the embryo has been unable to naturally undergo this process, which is where assisted hatching can help.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    When an embryo (a fertilised egg) is transferred for implantation, it needs to 'hatch' out of its embryonic shell (the zona pellucid) in order to allow it to successfully come into direct contact with the cells of your womb lining.

    Assisted hatching is usually performed 30 minutes before the transfer of the embryo on day three or five following egg collection.

    Prior to the embryo being transferred for implantation, your consultant will show you the embryo via a special camera located under a microscope. The embryo will then be placed into your uterus (womb) using a small catheter. The procedure is quick and painless.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Due to the small risk of damage to the embryo during assisted hatching (<1%), it may only be suggested in cases where there is a recurring history of implantation failure, embryos have thickening of the zona pellucid or the couple has an advanced maternal age.

    Your consultant will explain these risks and any side effects in more detail and answer any questions you might have.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You can go home after both the assisted hatching and embryo transfer procedures. You don't need to stay in hospital overnight.

    After the embryo has been transferred, you can get back to your usual routine straight away. You’ll be required to take progesterone supplements and you’ll have a pregnancy test two weeks later. If you’re pregnant, you’ll need to keep taking these supplements until you are 12 weeks pregnant.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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