What is a blastocyst?

The blastocyst is a structure formed in the early development of embryos. It possesses an inner cell mass (ICM) which subsequently forms the embryo. The outer layer of the blastocyst consists of cells collectively called the trophoblast.

The term 'blastocyst' refers to the human embryo 5 - 6 days after fertilization. It is the stage of development that the embryo must reach for successful transfer and implantation.

The structure of the blastocyst is more complex than earlier embryo stages because as well as increasing in cell number, the cells have become organized into 2 types, the trophectoderm, whose main role is in the implantation into the uterine lining and the inner cell mass which will give rise to the fetus itself.

Why extend the time that the embryos are cultured in the laboratory to 5 days?

Transferring embryos at the blastocyst stage provides a better co-ordination between the embryo and the uterus by transferring the embryo into the surrogates uterus at the exact time her antimerism is most receptive.

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