Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a common treatment for male fertility problems. It’s a fertilisation method used during IVF, and involves injecting a single healthy sperm directly into an egg. This can help to achieve fertilisation during standard IVF treatment if there is a problem with sperm quality or quantity.
Your fertility specialist might recommend ICSI if you have an especially low sperm count, if your sperm are unusually shaped, or if they suffer from poor motility. It might also be a good option if you’ve previously tried and failed with IVF.
You might consider ICSI treatment if any of the following applies:
- You have failed to conceive naturally, having tried for a year
- Fertility tests have shown you have low sperm count or poor sperm quality
- Your sperm are unable to penetrate or fertilise an egg
- A man cannot produce or ejaculate sperm, either due to a blockage or after a vasectomy.
When is ICSI recommended?
Before a fertility specialist recommends ICSI, they’ll run some tests to understand the cause of your fertility issues. They make put you forward for ICSI treatment if any of the following comes to light:
- The quantity or quality of your sperm is unsuitable for conventional IVF treatment
- Your sperm has been collected surgically
- You’ve had low or no fertilisation with IVF treatment previously
- You are using frozen eggs in your treatment
- Your sperm shows high levels of DNA damage
Occasionally your consultant may still recommend ICSI with IVF, even if there don’t appear to be any issues with your sperm. ICSI has been shown to help improve success rates for people who have not been successful with IVF in previous treatment cycles.
What does the ICSI procedure involve?
During ICSI treatment, we inject a single sperm directly into the centre of an egg. After a few days of development and observation in the lab, we place the embryo in the womb exactly the same way as with IVF treatment.
The video shows the process of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). The egg is held in place while a single sperm is injected into the cytoplasm of the egg using a fine needle.
What are the success rates with ICSI?
National ICSI success rates range between 50% and 80% of eggs being fertilised. While this doesn’t guarantee conception, it is a slightly higher rate of success compared to IVF because it virtually guarantees that the sperm penetrates the egg. There is no significant difference in pregnancy rates between IVF and ICSI. For more information on ICSI success rates by location, you can see our individual clinic success rates for further information.
Common ICSI FAQs
We understand that you’ll probably have a lot of questions (and there are a lot of acronyms to get your head around!). Here are some of the most common questions we get about ICSI with IVF.
How does ICSI differ from IVF?
Why does ICSI cost more than conventional IVF?
Are all the eggs collected used for ICSI?
Does ICSI guarantee fertilisation?
How do embryologists know which sperm to use?
Can ICSI damage eggs?
Are there any risks associated with ICSI treatment?
We have been using ICSI with IVF for 30 years and have helped many patients with this technique, consistently achieving high fertilisation success rates.
Our focus is on individualised treatment and we will only recommend ICSI if we believe it is appropriate for your treatment and will make a difference.
If you have any questions or are ready to book a consultation, you can call our new patient enquiry team on 0800 564 2270.