Embryo Culture

Embryo Culture Is a Dynamic Process That Helps Promote IVF Success

In the early days of in vitro fertilization (IVF), laboratories used various types of embryo culture media without fully understanding which ingredients helped and hindered embryonic growth. However, thanks to advances in reproductive medicine and research, the Ovation® embryologists thoroughly understand what types of nutrients and conditions embryos need during those critical early stages of their development.

Because we are better able to provide the ideal growing environment for IVF embryos, more embryos can grow and develop, which leads to higher pregnancy rates.

A Solid Embryo Culture System Encourages Growth and Development

When we refer to the term “embryo culture system,” we’re talking about a combination of specific environmental conditions, technical equipment and nutrients in the culture media that all IVF embryos need for optimal growth.

Another important part of the culture system is the embryologist’s ability to tightly control all conditions that can affect the embryo. This includes everything from light to temperature and humidity. The goal is to mimic the conditions of the female reproductive tract as closely as possible. At Ovation, all the necessary components of a successful embryo culture system come together to help IVF embryos reach their full potential.

Embryos Need to Grow in a Specific Culture Media Within an Incubator

When most people think of embryo culture, they think of embryos growing in a solution in a petri dish. However, most people don’t realize that we might use three different types of media for embryo culture in our laboratories. Each media is designed to provide the proper nutrients that embryos need at each stage of development.

  • Fertilization media promotes the fertilization of mature eggs (oocytes).
  • Cleavage media supports an embryo as it moves from one cell to eight cells.
  • Blastocyst media has the necessary nutrients to help embryos grow from eight cells to 100 cells.

As the embryos grow and develop within the culture media, they will remain in an incubator. Not only does this high-tech device maintain a temperature-controlled environment, but it also maintains the appropriate levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen. This is critical so that the pH of each embryo culture remains within a tight range. Our embryologists also place a layer of oil in each petri dish to help maintain a stable pH as the embryos grow.

After a few days of development, our embryologists will work with your fertility doctor to determine which embryos are suitable to transfer to your uterus, undergo preimplantation genetic testing or freeze for future use.

If you have more questions about conceiving with help from IVF, please contact an Ovation partner physician today.