July 25th is celebrated as World Embryologist Day worldwide, following a survey of embryologists in 2013. They voted to celebrate the profession of IVF scientists such as clinical embryologists, reproductive biologists & andrology & embryology technicians on the birthday of Louise Joy Brown, the first baby to be conceived through IVF. On this day, we at Manipal Fertility have a special message for all couples facing fertility issues. Infertility is a medical condition, not a taboo, and with the right assistance and treatment, you can start a beautiful family of your own too.
More than 27.5 million couples in India and around one in ten couples globally struggle with some form of infertility. These staggering numbers seem untrue because infertility is still not talked about openly and most people are not well-informed about their fertility health. We are trying to build a supportive and open environment for all couples struggling with infertility so that can they can freely seek information, guidance, and treatment and cope with the emotional and physical stress that infertility causes. IVF is a team effort involving, reproductive medicine specialists, embryologists, andrologists, counselors & nursing staff and their roles are crucial to high success rates and healthy babies.
Who is an embryologist?
An embryologist is a reproductive biologist who handles the oocytes, sperm, and the embryos. They play an extremely vital role in In Vitro Fertilization treatment and from the diagnosis, counseling to the final procedure of embryo transfer. During the diagnosis procedure, these specialists examine and study the sperm and eggs (oocytes) & are involved in counseling the couple about any abnormalities and defects that need to be addressed before they opt for the IVF cycle.
Responsibilities of an Embryologist:
- Scanning & identifying the oocytes during egg retrieval procedure.
- Assessment, separation & identification of good quality sperm.
- Fertilization of the egg with the sperm either by IVF insemination or by Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Monitoring, & selecting the good embryos for transfer.
- Culturing the embryos for 5-6 days in the laboratory under stringent well maintained culture conditions.
- Freezing ( cryopreservation) of the egg, sperm & embryos.
- Maintaining the cryopreserved samples in storage for years in optimal conditions for the couples future use.
- They also perform other advanced techniques like :
- Sperm retrieval from epididymis /testicular tissue for ICSI in males with an absence of sperm in their ejaculate (azoospermia) or poor quality sperm (high DFI).
- IMSI – Selecting a normal looking sperm under very high magnification for ICSI, useful when the sperm is severely compromised.
- Assisted hatching – thinning the outer shell (zona pellucida )of the embryos to facilitate easy hatching process.
- Time Lapse/ Embryoscope – Selection of
- Embryos on the basis of their cell division rate/cycle (morphokinetics)
Embryo Biopsy -removal of few or a single cell from the embryos embryo to access their chromosomal content/ chromosomal disease. PGS (Preimplantation genetic testing) is proposed in cases of repeat IVF failures, repeat abortions, women above 35yrs of age & in severe male factor to improve their success. PGD (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) is recommended in patients with the history of hereditary diseases like thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy & some hereditary metabolic diseases etc.
- Apart from these, they are responsible towards maintaining optimum laboratory conditions, Quality assurance, Quality Control of the laboratory processes. Documentation & data maintenance.
- A diligent & responsible embryologist plays a crucial role to ensure good & safe practices.
These medical professionals are key to the success of an IVF treatment. Therefore, it is imperative for couples seeking IVF to carefully consider the profile of the Embryologist and the quality of the Embryology work as additional factors of importance in their treatment.
The embryologists at Manipal Fertility are highly qualified, with 5- 20 years of work experience in this field. They are academically sound and have presented their work at both national and international academic conferences.