Embryo Co-Culturing is a technique used to improve the overall quality of embryos before transferring them into the mother's uterus. Co-culturing uses Human Granulosa or Endometrial Cells that may secrete supplementary molecules that help growing embryos and improve their chances for survival. Using co-culture we have seen an improvement in embryo quality and relative growth potential of the embryos this culture system could be recommended for repeated IVF failures in spite of good quality embryo transfers. This need not be used for all cases since practical difficulties exist.
We only recommend this technique to patients who have had previous unsuccessful IVF cycles with poor embryo quality. An important concept to understand is that the likelihood of achieving pregnancy, regardless of the age, depends on the overall quality of the embryos. If the couple has generally good embryo quality, then they have a higher chance of conceiving from IVF treatment cycle. Conversely, if they have generally poor embryo quality, then the chance for success diminishes.
The risks associated with co-culture are unknown at this time. Because it has never been tested extensively and there are no large trials and information regarding children born of co-culture using these specific cells. Because of this fact, we remain cautious about using this technique on patients who clearly may not benefit from it. It is important to understand that some patients may not have improved embryo quality, despite the use of co-culturing.
If you and your doctor agree to use co-culture for your IVF treatment cycle, then we will incubate all your embryos in the co-culture environment as soon as our embryologists confirm fertilization. We will continue co-culture until the day of your embryo transfer. It is possible to freeze co-culture embryos. Co-culture will not affect the ability of your embryos to freeze well. We use the same standards for freezing co-cultured embryos as we do for standard cultured embryos. If your embryo quality is improved with co-culture, there is a greater likelihood that we will be able to freeze more embryos for you.