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Houston Fertility Center

IVF Techniques: Co-culture of Embryos

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on September 01, 2016

Embryos being examined under a microscopeAt Houston Fertility Center, we offer a variety of fertility and lab services that go well beyond those available at most fertility clinics. Dr. Sonja Kristiansen and her team of fertility experts understand how important it is to their patients that they exercise every available option in their efforts to achieve successful pregnancy, so they strive to make all viable treatment options available at Houston Fertility Center. This includes embryo co-culturing with endometrial or granulose cells to improve the overall quality of embryos prior to transfer during the in vitro fertilization, or IVF, procedure.

Co-culture of embryos is available at our Houston, TX fertility clinic to patients who have previously undergone IVF without success due to poor quality embryos. It is not recommended for all IVF patients; even those who have had unsuccessful IVF cycles in the past may not be considered good candidates for co-culture. Dr. Kristiansen evaluates patients on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they are likely to benefit from co-culture of embryos.

If you have undergone IVF in the past without success due to poor embryo quality and you would like to learn more about co-culture of embryos at Houston Fertility Center, please schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Sonja Kristiansen today.

What Is Embryo Co-culturing?

Embryo co-culturing involves growing embryos in a culture medium on top of a layer of granulosa or endometrial cells. This underlying layer of cells provides the embryos with nutritional products while removing toxic substances from the medium, thereby promoting the development of higher-quality embryos.

The “helper” cells used in embryo co-culturing come most commonly from the fallopian tube, the lining of the uterus, or the walls of the ovarian follicles.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Embryo Co-culturing?

As stated above, the co-culture of embryos should not be considered a first course of fertility treatment. The technique is still relatively new, dating back only twenty years; therefore, none of its potential long-term risks are known. The technique should never be used for first-time IVF patients or for patients known to produce embryos of reasonably good quality, even if their treatment cycles have been unsuccessful in the past.

Dr. Kristiansen will recommend embryo co-culturing only to patients who could potentially benefit from the technique because they:

  • Have had unsuccessful IVF cycles in the past, and
  • Were unable to achieve successful pregnancy through IVF because they had extremely poor embryo quality.

Even then, these patients must understand that the greatest risk associated with embryo co-culturing is that the potential risks associated with the procedure are not yet known. Further, they must understand that embryo co-culturing is not a guarantee of improved embryo quality, and that certain patients continue to experience poor embryo quality despite use of the technique.

For appropriate candidates, however, co-culture of embryos can improve their chances of successful conception via IVF.

Learn More about Co-Culture of Embryos

If you would like to learn more about co-culture of embryos as an IVF technique, please contact Houston Fertility Center today.

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