The first thing many women learn about family building is to actively try to prevent a pregnancy through various means of birth control. When that time comes in a woman’s life and they want to begin the journey of parenthood, most of us will think “Ok, I’m ready! Let’s start trying to have a baby.” As the months go by, worry may begin to creep in, the temperature charts come out, and suddenly trying to conceive goes from fun to a less than romantic task.  When conception doesn’t happen as planned, many couples turn to fertility treatment to aide them with getting pregnant.

Half of all patients starting fertility treatment at Shady Grove Fertility begin with low-tech treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI). The other half start off with more advanced care such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

IVF is when eggs and sperm are combined in the embryology lab. The resulting embryos are monitored over the course of the next five days before being placed back into the woman. Sounds easy enough, but you may wonder: How does that work? Who is watching the embryos grow? How do I know which embryo is the best?

How is the best embryo selected for transfer?

In traditional lab settings – and what is currently done in both the Shady Grove Fertility labs in Rockville and Towson – each tray of embryos is removed from their environment and viewed under a microscope by an embryologist. The embryologist grades each embryo and puts them back into the incubator for next day development. This daily monitoring provides the embryologist with a good idea of embryo development, and allows them to then select the best embryo(s) on the day of the embryo transfer.

Infertility specialists are constantly working to tweak and improve the treatment process to help with the ultimate goal – more women being able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Which led some to wonder, what if we could monitor the embryos through the whole development process leading up to transfer? Would that then make the selection of the most viable embryo more obvious and lead to higher success rates?

The EmbryScope: Time-lapse video of embryos developing

CBS 3 in Philadelphia: EmbryoScope helps Shady Grove Fertility patients Toni & Ryan conceive.

“The EmbryoScope is a unique incubator that provides the appropriate environmental and nutritional conditions for embryo development while taking pictures of the embryo every 5 minutes. The images are put together into a mini-movie and characterize the time frame in which embryo development occurs. Furthermore, sensitive embryos are not exposed to the temperature changes that occur when embryos are removed from the incubator to be graded using a traditional morphological techniques,” says Isaac E. Sasson, M.D., Ph.D. of Shady Grove Fertility in Chesterbrook, PA.

With the EmbryoScope, there are no embryos coming in and out of the incubator. They go in the first day and remain there until it is time for to transfer the embryo back into the patient. An embryologist is able to watch for proper cell development, every 5 minutes. Any issues that may have occurred during development will now be captured.

Watch an embryo develop with the EmbryoScope

“The EmbryoScope is a promising tool to aid in choosing the most morphologically normal developing embryos by using dynamic assessment rather than traditional static observation. By allowing embryos to culture in a self-contained system, fluctuations in environmental conditions are minimized and may ultimately contribute to better development,” says Marc Portmann, Laboratory Director.

At Shady Grove Fertility’s lab in Chesterbrook, PA outside of Philadelphia, every patient that comes to the center for IVF will have their embryos  placed in the EmbryoScope. There are no extra fees involved and patients are able to see a mini video of their embryo developing.

In essence, answering the question of “Looks cool! But can it really help me conceive?” Yes, the EmbryScope allows your embryologist and physician to view proper embryo development and help increase your success.

If you are ready to schedule an appointment at Shady Grove Fertility, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.