ICSI treatments

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a laboratory procedure carried out during IVF treatment where an individual sperm is injected directly into an egg. This can help to achieve fertilisation during standard IVF treatment if there is a problem with sperm quality or quantity.

Could ICSI be right for me?

Your fertility specialist might recommend ISCI if you have an especially low sperm count, your sperm are unusually shaped, or they suffer from poor mobility. It might also be a good option if you’ve previously tried, and failed, with IVF. 

People should consider ICSI 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 is unable to produce or ejaculte 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 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
  • The egg(s) you’re using were previously frozen.

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 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.

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 treatment?

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 the success rates of ICSI treatment, you can see our individual clinic success rates for further information.

How much does ICSI treatment cost?

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 £3,450–£3,750
Elective freeze of embryos  (excluding transfer) £2,950–£3,700
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) £1,145–£1,325

There is an additional cost for ICSI cost on top of the cost of IVF treatment. The average for ICSI is between £1,145–£1,325.

Please see our individual ICSI costs for your chosen CARE clinic.

For a more accurate idea of the costs involved, and for a confidential talk about the processes involved, get in touch to speak to one of our fertility specialists. 

New patient enquiries:
0800 5642270

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) FAQs


From a patient’s point of view ICSI is much the same as IVF – it is what happens in the laboratory that differs. With IVF, the eggs are put in a petri dish together with several thousand prepared sperm, then left overnight for fertilisation to hopefully occur. With ICSI, each mature egg is injected directly with a single sperm under a high-powered microscope.

Whether IVF or ICSI is used, eggs are incubated in the laboratory overnight and examined the following day for signs of fertilisation.

ICSI is a delicate and precise technique that requires the use of specialist micromanipulation equipment by highly skilled practitioners. 

How does ICSI work?

ICSI can only be performed on mature eggs. Usually we expect about 75% of eggs to be mature.

ICSI maximises the chances of fertilisation where there is known to be an issue with sperm quality or quantity. Over 90% of couples having IVF treatment with ICSI will achieve fertilisation of some of their eggs. Fertilisation cannot be absolutely guaranteed because numerous factors affect this, including egg number and quality.

The embryologists choose the sperm that are the most motile (best swimmers) and which look the most normal shape. 

The injection technique may sometimes damage individual eggs. The overall damage rate is low (below 5% of eggs injected) but may be higher for individual patients, depending on egg quality.

ICSI bypasses many of the processes normally associated with fertilisation, which means that a sperm could fertilise an egg that might not otherwise do so. The risk of miscarriage or a birth defect is slightly higher with ICSI than with IVF. It appears to increase in proportion to the severity of male infertility and it is thought this factor contributes most to any increased risk, rather than the actual ICSI technique itself.

There have been large multi-centre studies looking at the development of children born after ICSI compared to naturally conceived controls and the data has been very reassuring. According to The Practice Committee for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, studies to date support the safety and efficacy of ICSI to treat various male factor conditions.

We will continue to monitor ongoing research into outcomes for ICSI children and will ensure that you are given up-to-date information regarding any potential risks before you commence any treatment. Counselling is available to help you.