What is ICSI
ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is an IVF technique in which a single sperm is injected into the centre of an egg. For around half of couples who are having problems conceiving, the cause of infertility is sperm-related. ICSI is the most common and successful treatment for male infertility. Today, it’s also the world's favoured fertilisation method for all types of IVF treatment.
How Does ICSI Treatment Work
The early stages of ICSI IVF treatment are the same as for conventional IVF. The female partner takes fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries so that several eggs can be collected. Each egg is injected with a sperm cell so that several embryos will be available for transfer and freeze storage. Each individual sperm cell is picked up in a very fine suction needle (many times smaller than a human hair) before injection. The whole process is visualised through very high magnification microscopes.
Who needs ICSI
ICSI can help men with low quality or quantity of sperm by extracting just a few sperm cells from the testis for injection into the egg. The rate of fertilisation with ICSI is generally around 90%, so many clinics use ICSI to guarantee fertilisation. The merits of ICSI may be discussed with you depending on your medical history during your consultation with one of our fertility specialists. In some cases, the use of ICSI may be decided on the day of fertilisation depending on the quality of the sperm sample collected.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval
There are rare cases of male infertility in which normal sperm production or sperm ejaculation is prevented by an obstruction in the complicated tubal system of the testes. In these cases, provided that motile sperm are being produced, it is possible to retrieve sperm through surgical sperm retrieval which uses a very fine needle to extract sperm directly from the epididymis or the testes.
Alternatively, if no live sperm are found, a sample of tissue (testicular biopsy) can be taken from the testes and examined under a microscope for sperm cells. Any surgically retrieved sperm cells can then be used to fertilise eggs using the microinjection technique of ICSI.
There have been many scientific studies investigating the possibility that birth defects are increased with the use of IVF in general, and ICSI specifically. There is general agreement that further research is necessary before any firm conclusions can be reached, and these studies continue to be done. What is established for certain is that the possibility of birth defects is low in all cases and that the risks are not great. You should, however, be aware of the concerns which will be discussed with your fertility specialist if ICSI is required for your treatment.