What Is Micromanipulation?
Micromanipulation is the term used to refer to the series of tests and techniques an embryologist uses to ensure the quality of embryos and increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Our embryologist, Susan Walker, regularly performs advanced procedures on eggs, sperm, and embryos under a high-powered microscope to help ensure the best odds for conception.
ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
ICSI is a way to micromanipulate or “force” fertilization. A glass needle is used to inject a single sperm into the cytoplasm of a mature egg. This process bypasses many reproductive barriers, including low sperm concentration, poor sperm motility, and antisperm antibodies, to allow fertilization to occur. If a couple’s infertility is unexplained or if preimplantation genetic diagnosis is being used to screen embryos, the ICSI procedure is often recommended or required for fertilization. Currently, ICSI is the most successful fertilization approach for male-factor infertility. Because of its proven reliability, the procedure is often used even for couples without sperm quality issues.
PGD/PGS – Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis/Screening
A breakthrough in helping couples at risk of passing life-threatening or debilitating genetic diseases on to their offspring, PGD/PGS is used only in conjunction with IVF and allows for sample cells to be taken from an embryo (including genetic material from both the egg and sperm). The cell can be used to test for single-gene disorders, such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis, as well as chromosomal abnormalities such as Down and Edwards syndromes. As a result of this testing, only the healthiest embryos are transferred for pregnancy.
The Fertility Center recognizes the controversial nature of choosing a specific gender for pregnancy attempts or embryo cryopreservation. The doctors and staff respect each patient’s right to make this choice and neither encourage nor discourage the use of sex-selection procedures in the laboratory for couples needing either family balancing or screening for chromosome-related diseases. Embryo genders are identified through the PGD/PGS process whether sex selection is needed or not.
The outer protective layer of an embryo is called the zona pellucida. Normally, the embryo sheds its surrounding zona to be able to implant in the uterus. However, if the outer layer is thickened or toughened, the embryo may not be able to “hatch.” In these cases, a small opening can be created in the zona to help the embryo break out and implant in the uterus following transfer.