ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is a technique which is considered to be a breakthrough in treating male infertility. It is a relatively new technique in the medical field. With this advancement, only one sperm is needed and it is injected directly into the egg. ICSI can offer real hope to couples where the man has a very low sperm count or produces few good quality sperm. ICSI can also help couples who would prefer not to use donor sperm.

How it’s done

The intracytoplasmic sperm injection allows fertility specialists to use micromanipulation technology to fertilize an egg using just one sperm. Specialists can retrieve sperm from the testicles if necessary. However, it is preferred to use sperm from a semen sample. Once sperm has been collected and the egg is collected from the female partner via the usual retrieval methods, the specialist will draw a single sperm into a needle and inject it directly into the egg. So this process bypasses the conventional IVF methods of fertilization, thereby ensuring that fertilization has taken place. The fertilized eggs are then left to culture for a few days before being transferred back to the woman’s uterus. In addition, this intracytoplasmic sperm injection process is always used alongside IVF.

Who is Suited to ICSI?

Couples that are infertile due to any of the following reasons may want to consider using ICSI with their IVF treatment:

  • Low sperm count
  • Poor sperm motility
  • Abnormally high amount of morphologically abnormal sperm
  • Experienced fertilization failure for unknown reasons in a previous IVF cycle
  • Lack of any sperm in ejaculate due to failed vasectomy reversal, failure to produce sperm, or an obstruction in the epididymus due to past inflammation
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Immunological factors
  • Additionally, men who have been diagnosed with testicular cancer may choose to freeze a semen sample before undergoing treatment as this can later be used in ICSI