Making the Grade: Understanding Embryo Selection


From school-age, we learn the importance of earning high marks and good grades. At Dallas Fertility Associates, Dr. Samuel Chantilis, Dr. Karen Lee, Dr. Mika Thomas, Dr. Ravi Gada and Dr. Laura Lawrence are dedicated to helping infertile couples create or expand their families. Part of the infertility treatment process includes assessing embryos to ensure they measure up and will likely produce the desired results.

What Makes a Good Embryo?

In choosing which embryos to transfer for IVF, embryologists look for certain characteristics. Typically, the embryos are “graded” on Day 3 and/or Day 5, depending on when the transfer will occur.

Day 3 Standards

When looking at Day 3 embryos, we assess their quality based on:

  • Cell number
    By now, the embryos should have between 6 to 10 cells, with 7-8 being the average.
  • Amount of fragmentation
    For best results, we prefer as few fragments, or bits of cells, as possible. The higher the fragmentation, the less likely the embryo will implant and result in a viable pregnancy.
  • Symmetry
    For this trait, embryologists look at the individual blastomeres (cells) as well as the overall shape of the embryo itself.

Day 5 Criteria

To determine quality at this point, we evaluate three main factors:

  • Status of cellular expansion and hatching
  • Quality of the inner cell mass (which becomes the fetus)
  • Quality of the outer cell mass, or trophectoderm (which develops into the membranes and placenta)

New technologies continue to emerge and help with the process of grading embryos, including the development of embryo microscopes.

The team at Dallas Fertility Associates wants to make sure nothing stand between you and your dreams of parenthood. Our embryo selection process ensures that patients have the best odds for a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.

For more information about diagnosing and treating infertility, please visit To schedule a consultation with one of the doctors at Dallas Fertility Associates, contact our office.

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Embryo Grading

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