What is a blastocyst?
A blastocyst is an embryo that is 5 or 6 days old. It looks like a hollow sphere and has 2 cell types, the cells around the surface of the sphere (‘trophectoderm‘) which form the placenta, and an inner ball of cells, the ‘inner cell mass‘ which forms the fetus.
Why culture blastocysts?
We carefully monitor your embryo(s) development grading the embryos on a daily basis. We can also use Time Lapse Monitoring to help decide which are the strongest embryos. Not all embyros reach the blastocyst stage.
Embryos that develop as far as the blastocyst stage are fitter and stronger and so have more chance of implanting after transfer. The timing of the blastocyst transfer mimics natural conception, as embryos are transferred at the time they would normally reach the uterus, hence uterine conditions at this time are ideal for the embryos.
Who is suitable for blastocyst culture?
Blastocyst culture is suitable only for some fertility patients, and depends on the number and quality of your embryos.
Many embryos may not continue developing for five days and our experience has shown that only about half of embryos are capable of development into blastocysts in the laboratory.
We assess your embryos daily to see if there are sufficient top quality embryos to be able to progress with blastocyst transfer. If not, we carry out your embryo transfer on day 2 or 3.
Any excess good quality blastocysts remaining after transfer can be frozen.