Embryologists receive specialized training in the fields of human embryology, reproductive endocrinology and genetics to handle sperms and eggs which are used to create embryos in the IVF process.
“As embryologists, we mostly work behind the scenes and may not directly interact with our patients. We maintain our laboratory environment so that is conducive to the proper growth and development of your embryos, preserve eggs and sperms through cryopreservation (vitrification) technique and can create embryos with them. We also freeze embryos and blastocysts,“ says Mrs Pooja Awasthi, Scientific Advisor & Chief Embryologist at Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research in Delhi.
What does an embryologist do?
An embryologist is required at every step of the IVF process, beginning with egg retrieval. Once the follicles have been retrieved from the ovary, an embryologist scans the follicular fluid containing eggs from the follicles, selects the good quality eggs and prepares them.
A semen sample from the male partner is collected simultaneously while the female partner is undergoing egg retrieval. The semen so collected is handed over to the embryologist, who washes and separates the sperm, identifies high quality sperm and prepares them for fertilization.
In cases of low sperm motility, embryologists may use a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) through which they inject a healthy sperm into a healthy egg for fertilization.
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Embryologists create embryos, monitor their development over a few days and select healthy embryos appropriate for implantation.
“We select 1-2 best quality embryos, transfer these into an embryo transfer catheter, which the IVF expert then uses to implant the embryo in the woman’s uterus,” shares Mrs. Pooja.
Read: Frozen Embryo Transfer: Process, Tips and Success Story
Embryologists also play an important role in determining suitability of candidates for receiving egg donation and in freezing eggs, semen, embryos and ovarian tissue in a way that ice doesn’t impair their development.
What degree is needed to be an embryologist?
As per the Assisted Reproductive Technique (Regulation) Bill 2020, it is mandatory for embryologists in new ART clinics to have a post-graduate degree in life sciences or a medical degree.
Is an embryologist a doctor?
Not all embryologists are medical doctors.
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