Timelapse incubation – is it worth the money?
Everyone can benefit from the undisturbed development that timelapse incubation provides, but people with multiple embryos will find it most valuable.
What is timelapse incubation?
Timelapse incubators allow embryologists to monitor embryos without disturbing them during development. Embryos need to grow in very particular conditions while they are outside the body, where all factors are carefully controlled including temperature, light, nutrients, and oxygen levels. Standard incubators require embryos to be removed from these optimum conditions to be checked under the microscope which can cause stress and negatively impact quality. Timelapse incubators have built-in cameras which take pictures every few minutes to create a live video of the embryos, eliminating the need to remove them from the incubator to check on their progress.
What are the benefits of timelapse?
- Embryos remain undisturbed during the whole of development
- Embryos can be easily checked and graded at any time
- Many clinics provide you with a video of your embryo to keep
- Embryologists can identify unusual development behaviours which are impossible to see with standard incubation
- Provides the embryologist with much more information about quality to help with embryo selection and grading
Are there downsides to timelapse incubation?
- There is often an additional cost
- Embryos stay in the same tiny drop of solution for up to a week and there is a concern that it causes a build-up of harmful substances by the end of development which can negatively affect quality
- There is limited evidence that it improves the chance of having a baby compared to standard incubators
Should I pay extra for timelapse?
Almost all modern IVF clinics now offer some form of timelapse incubation, but it is often considered an ‘add-on’ with extra costs associated with it.
The additional information from timelapse videos can reveal important information about the embryos and help to select the best ones as well as helping to rank them, but it is also useful to de-select embryos which have shown concerning behaviours. This means that the people who can benefit most from timelapse incubation are those with lots of embryos. If you didn’t have many eggs collected or had poor fertilization, it is likely that choosing the best embryo(s) will be very straightforward. Everyone can benefit from the undisturbed development that timelapse incubation provides, but people with multiple embryos will find it most valuable.
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