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Embryo Grading

Embryo grading plays an important role in IVF success

The experienced embryologists at our Austin fertility clinic play an important role in the success of IVF cycles. Embryo grading is among one of their many job duties that helps our patients welcome healthy babies using in vitro fertilization.

Many intended parents don’t know what embryo grading is. Simply put, it is how our embryologists assess and grade embryos while they are developing in the laboratory. By monitoring the growth and development of the embryos, embryologists can assign a grade to each one. This information helps our team select the embryo that is most likely to implant in the uterus and develop into a healthy baby.

How does embryo grading work in the IVF laboratory?

IVF is a highly effective and complex fertility treatment that involves multiple steps, including grading embryos. It allows patients to bypass many barriers to pregnancy. The female patient takes medications to stimulate egg production and she undergoes outpatient egg retrieval at our Austin fertility clinic. Our embryologists combine these eggs with sperm from her partner or a sperm donor.

When the sperm fertilizes an egg, it becomes an embryo. Before the embryo transfer, our embryologists observe the embryos during their development to give each one a grade. Multiple factors determine the grade of an embryo.

  • Stage of the blastocyst. Around day five of development, embryos are called blastocysts. The embryologist assigns a number to each blastocyst to indicate whether it is expanding, hatching or hatched.
  • Quality of the inner cell mass (ICM). This is the area that will become the baby. The embryologist will assign a grade from A to C.
  • Quality of the trophectoderm. The embryologist will assign a quality grade to the trophectoderm, which will become the placenta. These scores also range from A to C.

This process helps our team identify the best embryo for transfer

Currently, all grading systems are subjective and based on the experience of many embryologists grading millions of embryos. This means that our experienced embryologists look at each embryo to make an educated guess about how likely it is to develop into a healthy baby.

Embryo grading helps our team determine which one to transfer and when to do it. It also helps our embryologists determine which embryos to freeze for future use. However, this isn’t the only tool we use to make decisions about embryo transfer. We also look at a patient’s age, fertility and medical history, family-building goals, and other information.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about grading and what else happens in the IVF laboratory to help our patients become parents.