Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a method of addressing male-factor infertility during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment. Rather than allowing fertilization to happen by combining eggs and sperm in a lab dish, ICSI entails the injection of a single sperm directly into an egg in order to facilitate fertilization. Knowing more about the ICSI process, and its effectiveness, can help you decide if this ancillary treatment in conjunction with IVF is an option for you.
In order to be considered fertile, a man’s sperm must:
Should any of these functions be diagnosed as abnormal, a man may not be able to impregnate a woman because his sperm cannot penetrate her egg. A man may be infertile even if he produces adequate quantities of sperm in ejaculate. Should his sperm be misshaped or not move correctly, fertilization will be difficult, if not impossible.
ICSI may be used whenever male fertility is a concern. The process can address issues with the shape and movement of sperm and compensate for low sperm count. If sperm are produced but are not present in semen, they can be manually retrieved and then used in the ICSI process. The process may also be suggested to couples who have had low fertilization rates during other cycles.
ICSI is performed in conjunction with IVF. Once retrieved, each egg is injected with a single sperm in a laboratory setting. The eggs are then monitored for signs of fertilization. The resulting embryos are closely monitored as they develop through EmbryoScope technology. Healthy embryos are then transferred to the mother’s uterus, or frozen for future Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET).
While pregnancy success may vary based on the quality of the sperm, typically between 75 and 85 percent of eggs become fertilized with the use of ICSI. This is different than the pregnancy rates which can be expected from the process. Pregnancy rates are largely a function of the health of the embryo, which is largely tied to the quality of both the eggs and sperm.