Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

When Simon Fishel and his team pioneered ICSI in 1990 it revolutionised IVF treatment for couples who have male factor infertility

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI for short, is a procedure where sperm is injected directly into the egg(s) to achieve fertilisation during IVF treatment.
ICSI differs from from IVF only in the way the egg is fertilised. Rather than putting the sperm and egg together in a petri dish as in IVF, with ICSI treatment we inject a single sperm directly into the egg. This can significantly improve the chance of fertilisation if there is a low quality sperm issue.

Could ICSI be right for me?

ICSI can help to overcome certain male infertility problems including:

  • When sperm are unable to penetrate or fertilise an egg
  • Low sperm count or poor sperm quality
  • A blockage or anatomical abnormality in the male's reproductive tract that prevents him from producing or ejaculating sperm
  • Men who require a testicular or epididymal biopsy in order to conceive (such as after a vasectomy)


We might recommend ICSI instead of conventional IVF if:

  • The quantity or quality of your sperm is unsuitable for conventional IVF treatment
  • Your sperm has been collected surgically
  • You’ve had low fertilisation with IVF treatment previously, or haven’t been able to fertilise at all
  • The egg you’re using was previously frozen.

Even if there are no issues your sperm, your consultant  may still recommend ICSI with IVF. ICSI has been proven to help improve success rates for couples that have not been successful with IVF in previous cycles.

What does the ICSI procedure involve?

During the ICSI procedure we inject a single sperm directly into the centre of an egg. After a few days of development and observation in the lab, we then place the embryo in the womb in exactly the same way as with IVF treatment.

My ICSI video

The video shows the process of Intra-cytoplasmic 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.

Fertilisation rates

Fertilisation rates are slightly higher with ICSI compared to IVF because it virtually guarantees that the sperm penetrates the egg. On average, around 75% of eggs fertilise with ICSI.  Whilst there is no significant difference in pregnancy rates between ICSI and IVF,  where there is a sperm issue we would usually recommend using ICSI.

Typical ICSI costs

IVF treatments
Prices are indicative only but include monitoring, egg collection, embryo culture and transfer. Prices do not include drugs or other optional costs - costs typically range from £500–£1,000.
IVF £2,980–£3,660
Elective freeze of embryos  (excluding transfer) £2,950–£3,700
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) £1,145–£1,325