Blastocyst culture

You may have attended promotional presentations by foreign IVF centres or heard from other sources that the chances of treatment success are lower in Germany than abroad. You can easily examine the truthfulness of this statement yourselves by comparing the Austrian with the German IVF register.

As a reason for our "lower quality", it is alleged that blastocyst culture is banned in Germany. This is not correct. In fact, we do carry out blastocyst culture and even actively recommend it in selected cases.

So what does it mean? All the doctors at our clinic have many years of experience transferring embryos on days 2 or 3. On day 2, the embryos should consist of 2-4 cells, on day 3 of 4-8 cells. Even at this "young" age, the embryos are not all the same. Embryologists can predict their ability to develop by assessing how quickly and evenly they are growing at this early stage.

Blastocyst culture means keeping the embryos in culture without stressing them unduely for up to 5 days by improving their culture conditions. During this time, the cells keep dividing to reach a stage when they look like a small berry with a small cavity inside. By this time, you can even distinguish the actual embryo from the amniotic cavity. The embryo has now reached a stage where it is about to implant in the uterus. However, not all embryos make it to this stage. Depending on the woman's age and her hormonal conditions, no more than 40% achieve implantation. The others stop developing at an earlier stage and have no chance to implant.

Blastocyst culture is legal in Germany. However, according to the Embryo Protection Act, we are obliged to avoid "the planned storage of embryos", i.e. embryos may only be cryopreserved in emergencies. Therefore, we must bring all our experience to bear to decide in each case how many pronuclear oocytes should be cultivated to the blastocyst stage in order to be able to transfer the desired one or two viable embryos. We are obliged to document the reasons for this decision in each individual case.