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Until Day 5 or 6 following fertilization the embryo is contained in a protective layer (“shell‘‘ known as the zona pellucida). At this point some surface cells which will later form the placenta begin to differentiate, the shell is ruptured, allowing the embryo to “hatch‘‘ out and implant into the uterine lining.
Assisted hatching is typically used in women with recurrent implantation failure, during which the protective layer of the embryo/s is disturbed (punctured) by a special needle or laser before its/their transfer into the uterus.