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Embryologists – Are they a rare breed in India ?

2016/07/12 - 1:15 pm

The branch of biology and medicine concerned with the study of embryos and their development is called Embryology. Clinical embryology in particular is pertaining to the first few days of embryonic development.

Who are Embryologists?

An Embryologist or a Reproductive Embryologist is a scientist who works with sperms, eggs and embryos. Embryologists are involved in the laboratory investigation and treatment of various causes of infertility. This involves the collection of eggs from patients for examination, micromanipulation procedures for the gametes, embryo culture and various other cutting edge techniques of assisted reproduction.

An Embryologist or a Reproductive Embryologist is a scientist who works with sperms, eggs and embryos. Embryologists are involved in the laboratory investigation and treatment of various causes of infertility. This involves the collection of eggs from patients for examination, micromanipulation procedures for the gametes, embryo culture and various other cutting edge techniques of assisted reproduction.

Role of an Embryologist

The embryologist in an in vitro fertilization program (IVF) plays a vital role in the journey of a couple who find it difficult to achieve a normal pregnancy by natural methods. During the initial phase of investigation as to why the couple has not conceived , the normalcy or the defects involved in the male factor (sperm factor) is assessed to give clarity as to which treatment modality will be suitable for the couple.

Embryologists play a key role in counseling the patients on the quality of their gametes and the expected success based on their assessment of the condition. During the process of treatment, the patients are given updates on the development of their embryos and advised if any additional procedures will be required like assisted hatching etc.

The standards and quality maintained in the embryology lab in terms of air quality, the materials used and the skill in actually performing the procedures plays an important role in achieving the expected results which have a huge impact on the mental, physical and financial resources of the couple.

Since Embryologists play a critical role in the success of the IVF process, countries like the US, UK, Australia and the European Countries have accorded critical recognition to these Scientists. Educational and Awareness programs by the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) and Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the United Kingdom, Society of Assisted Reproduction Technologies (SART) and American College of Embryology (ACE) to the general public at large and patients seeking infertility treatment have resulted in heightened awareness and empowerment. Hence the couples seeking treatment enquire about the academic qualifications and the experience of the embryologists who will be involved in treating them.

ACE and SART in the US and HFEA in the UK make those information available to the patients publicly through their websites so that patients make informed decisions about where they would like to go for their Infertility treatment. Names of Trained and Certified Embryologists are published in websites of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) on a yearly basis. Continuous education and certifying programs are the norm through which Embryologists keep themselves abreast of new thinking and technologies in the field in these countries.

Till now, a typical Embryologist is a Life Sciences graduate with clear understanding of the Reproductive process in human physiology. Given the significance of this role and the nascency of the field, advanced qualifications like PhD maybe required in managing the highly complex Embryology Labs. Now, there is change in the scenario where clinical embryology is becoming a medical specialty and medical doctors choose to become embryologists. The advantage in medical doctors being embryologists is that they can bring in their acumen of a holistic understanding of the subject , which translates into better results to the patients.

 

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