Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is quite like the conventional IVF where the eggs and sperm are collected from each partner. The only difference between the two procedures is the method of achieving fertilisation. In IVF, the eggs and sperm are mixed together in a dish and the sperm fertilises the egg ‘naturally’. However, to have a chance that this will occur, large numbers of actively swimming normal sperm are required. In many couples, the number of active sperm available might be quite less or in any other cases it could be due to other factors that is preventing fertilisation to happen, so conventional IVF is not an option. ICSI has provided a hope for these couples.

ICSI involves the direct injection of a single sperm into each egg individually using a tiny needle under microscopic guidance, which is carried out in the laboratory by experienced embryologists using specialist equipment. Very few sperm are required and the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg is no longer important as this has been assisted by the ICSI technique. This process is used generally in case of male infertility problems and improves the chances of success.

Who is ICSI suitable for?

From a patient perspective, undergoing an ICSI treatment cycle is exactly the same as a conventional IVF cycle, and the same steps are involved.

Some of the most common cases where ICSI treatment is used:

  • • Couples who do not prefer insemination of donor sperms.
  • • When the male partner has a low sperm count or motility.
  • • Previous IVF attempts have failed.
  • • If the number of mature eggs that are fertilized in the normal manner is very low.
  • • The number of eggs for egg retrieval is very low. When ICSI is used in such a case, a larger number of eggs can get fertilized, as compared to the usual insemination done by mixing the sperm and the eggs.
  • • When the woman has a low ovarian reserve.
  • • Low quality eggs.

What does ICSI involve?

From a patient’s viewpoint, undergoing an ICSI treatment cycle is the same as a conventional IVF cycle.

  • • Stimulation of the ovaries to encourage development and maturation of the eggs.
  • • Retrieval of the eggs.
  • • Fertilisation of the eggs and culture of the embryos.
  • • Transfer of the embryos back into the uterus.

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