Definition - What does Blastocyst Culture mean?
Blastocyst culture refers to the practice of developing embryos within a laboratory setting until they reach the blastocyst stage. By extending the in vitro culture period until the blastocyst stage, embryos can be observed for a longer period of time in their development. The belief is that in some scenarios, identifying the best embryos at a later stage in their development can prevent the transfer of poor-quality embryos and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
FertilitySmarts explains Blastocyst Culture
Embryos developed using in vitro fertilization (IVF) are examined and graded for quality. The embryos with the highest grades are then transferred to a woman's uterus because they are thought to have the best chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy.
Traditionally, embryos were transferred on day 3 after fertilization. Improvements in technology have extended the period of time embryos can be cultured outside the human body. It is now possible to culture embryos until they have reached the blastocyst stage, on about day 5.
The advantage of culturing embryos to the blastocyst stage is that it allows embryologists to examine them further along in their development. Sometimes an embryo will look normal at an earlier stage but will later develop issues that would prevent it from implanting in the uterus. By waiting until the blastocyst stage to transfer the embryos, these low-quality embryos can be identified and excluded from transfer to the uterus.
Other professionals believe that transferring embryos on day 3 is still best practice. This is because not all of the embryos cultured to 5 days will advance to the blastocyst stage. Some may die before reaching this point. It is thought that these embryos may have survived to the blastocyst stage had they been inside the woman's uterus rather than the laboratory environment. The decision to transfer on day 3 or 5 is made by fertility specialists in consultation with the individual or individuals receiving treatment.