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11/04/2024 - 3 min read

What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, and could it work for me?

If you are having trouble conceiving, you have probably researched a range of treatments that could help your dream of a family to become a reality. In what can feel like a minefield of information, we’re here to help. Whether you have read about Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) before, or if this is your first time learning about ICSI, this blog aims to help you to understand the process of ICSI and how it could help you.

What is ICSI?

ICSI is a specialised form of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) that was developed, over 30 years ago, to overcome male infertility factors. Unlike conventional IVF, where sperm and egg are combined in a petri dish to aid fertilisation, ICSI involves the direct injection of a single sperm into the egg using a microscopic needle, which is ten times finer than a human hair. We use micromanipulators and high magnification microscopes to perform ICSI. This technique helps fertilisation, even in cases of severe male factor infertility such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology.

 The ICSI procedure:

  1. Ovarian stimulation: A woman / assigned female at birth (AFAB) partner undergoes ovarian stimulation to produce multiple eggs for retrieval, like the initial step in traditional IVF. 
  2. Egg retrieval: Once the eggs are mature, they are retrieved from the ovaries through ultrasound-guided aspiration. 
  3. Sperm collection: Simultaneously, the sperm sample, from the man/ assigned male at birth (AMAB) partner, or donor is prepared in the laboratory to isolate the healthiest and most viable sperm. 
  4. Microinjection: Utilising a specialised micromanipulation technique, one single sperm is directly injected into each mature egg by an expert embryologist. 
  5. Fertilisation and embryo culture: Following microinjection, the fertilised eggs (embryos) undergo close monitoring as they develop in the laboratory for several days. 
  6. Embryo transfer: We can perform a fresh or frozen-thawed embryo transfer. For a fresh transfer, the most viable embryo is selected for transfer into the uterus, typically 4-6 days after fertilisation (at the blastocyst stage), with the aim of achieving a successful pregnancy. Suitable embryos may be frozen (cryopreserved), and thawed for transfer at a later date.  

Benefits of ICSI in IVF:

  • Overcoming male factor infertility: ICSI helps individuals and couples going through male infertility issues that would otherwise prevent natural fertilisation.
  • Increased fertilisation rates: ICSI results average around 75% of eggs being fertilised. While this doesn’t guarantee conception, it is a slightly higher rate of fertilisation compared to IVF because we place the sperm into the egg rather than it having to make its own way.

Is ICSI right for you?

While ICSI offers hope to many who are struggling with fertility, it's important to speak with a fertility specialist to find out if its right for your specific circumstances. Factors such as the cause of infertility, previous fertility treatments, and overall health will influence the decision.

Find out more about ICSI at Care Fertility here.

At Care Fertility, our experienced team of fertility specialists are committed to providing personalised care and guidance throughout your fertility journey. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.