Advanced Lab Techniques

The success of an IVF laboratory depends critically on the training and skill of the staff employed and the conditions present during the processing of gametes and embryos.

Waterstone Clinic employs highly trained scientists enabling the centre to offer the highest standards and latest techniques in Assisted Reproductive Technology.

We employ strict quality control measures, monitoring our equipment, consumables and processes daily. The laboratory air quality is monitored to ensure we maintain the right culture conditions for the embryos, which are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature/light/ph. We have invested in k-systems bench-top incubators which allow for culturing of embryos in individual compartments for maximum security and environmental control.

Laboratory details for each treatment cycle are recorded in a comprehensive database; this allows for a quick and thorough analysis of specific lab performance indicators and ensures we assess our successes and failures quickly and reliably. We are aware of the investment couples make in their endeavours to have a child and do our utmost to help them achieve this goal.

Blastocyst Culture

Conventional IVF involves culturing embryos for 3 days after egg collection, with embryo transfer on day three. Blastocyst culture involves growing embryos in media for a further two to three days longer than average to allow their cells to divide many more times. The embryologist examines each stage of development and selects the embryo(s) which are most likely to result in a pregnancy, for transfer. This extended culture allows the trained eye of the embryologist to choose the very best in order to maximise the chance of pregnancy.

Cryopreservation (of Sperm and Embryos)

Cryopreservation is a term used to indicate the freezing of embryos in order to preserve them for future use. Our cryopreservation programme allows us to preserve additional embryos or sperm that have not been required in a fresh cycle. For patients, this means an extra opportunity to return for treatment without having to undergo ovarian stimulation.


At Waterstone Clinic, we use a technique known as vitrification to freeze embryos. This involves freezing the embryo about 600 times faster than in conventional slow rate freezing. This ultra-rapid process is so fast that it allows no time for intracellular ice to form. As a result, vitrification avoids trauma to the embryo. In conventional (slow-rate) freezing, 20-30% of embryos do not survive the freeze-thaw, and those that do survive have less than half the likelihood of generating a pregnancy as fresh embryos. In contrast, vitrified embryos have a greater than 80% freeze-thaw survival rate, and a pregnancy generating potential that is comparable to fresh embryos.

Elective Single Embryo Transfer Programme (e-SET)

Waterstone Clinic was the first clinic to introduce a successful Blastocyst Programme to Ireland where embryos are cultured for 5-6 days in the laboratory before transfer. This has lead to actively promoting blastocyst culture with elective Single Embryo Transfer (e-SET).

The e-SET programme at Waterstone Clinic is highly successful. Currently the live birth rate for first time IVF/ICSI treatment is 62% for women aged 40 and under.

Extended culture allows the scientist to choose the embryo with the best potential to achieve a pregnancy for transfer. Additional good quality embryos that are not transferred in a fresh cycle will be vitrified (frozen) and stored for future use.

These advances have made it possible to reduce the incidence of IVF twin pregnancies for couples without reducing their chance of success. Thus, e-SET is an effective and safe way to build families, one healthy baby at a time minimising risks of pregnancy while maintaining high pregnancy rates.

Speak to our team