Reproductive Endocrine Assoc. Assisted Reproduction Q & A

What is micromanipulation

Micromanipulation is a sophisticated laboratory technique to enhance the likelihood of success with in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. In general it is used for two reasons: "assisted hatching" to help fertilized eggs implant or "assisted fertilization" to help sperm penetrate eggs. We now know that the reason older women have trouble conceiving is that the protective shell around the egg thickens after fertilization. This prevents the embryo from "hatching" out of its shell. By using microscopic instruments in the laboratory, we can thin out this shell and make openings in it so that hatching will occur more readily.

Assisted fertilization is used for cases of severe male factor associated with very low sperm counts, or sperm counts with very low proportions of moving sperm cells. Sperm cells may be injected directely into the egg itself by a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Alternatively, sperm cells may be placed just inside the protective shell surrounding the egg to facilitate fertilization.

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