Getting Pregnant and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

One assisted reproductive technology (ART) option that is also being used for couples having difficulty getting pregnant is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This ART procedure can be effective in treating infertility, specifically male infertility, and as such remains the most popular male infertility treatment. But what is the success rate of ICSI and what is involved in the ICSI fertility procedure? Also, what are some of the risks associated with ICSI and are there any birth defects associated with ICSI?


What is ICSI?

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure in which microscopic manipulation technology is used in order to retrieve sperm directly from the testicles. In cases where it is possible, the male alternatively provides a semen sample.

ICSI is always paired with in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in which the woman is given medication so as to stimulate ovulation as well as the development of the egg follicles. The mature eggs are then retrieved and fertilized using her partner�s sperm.

During ICSI, a single sperm is retrieved using a needle; the sperm is then injected into a harvested egg. As in the process of natural fertilization, the egg reseals itself after the needle is withdrawn. The egg is then allowed to develop for a period of a few days prior to its transfer back into the uterus.


Types of Fertility Problems ICSI Helps to Treat

ICSI helps to treat a variety of male fertility problems, including the following:

  • low sperm count
  • low sperm motility
  • total absence of sperm in the semen
  • damaged or absent vas deferens
  • irreversible vasectomy
  • other conditions that prevent the fertilisation of the egg


Success Rate of ICSI

While intracytoplasmic sperm injection is currently the most successful form of male infertility treatment, its rate of effectiveness depends on the quality of the sperm. On average, the fertility success rate associated with ICSI is 60% to 70%, a range that reflects the variability in sperm quality.

Also, even in cases when the fertilized egg develops properly and is successfully re-transferred into the uterus, successful implantation is not guaranteed.

On average, ICSI results in a 20% to 25% chance of live birth.


Risks of ICSI

There are certain disadvantages associated with intracytoplasmic sperm injection. One such ICSI risk is that this ART procedure is relatively new, which might mean an increased risk of developmental or physical problems in children.

Also, ICSI uses any sperm to fertilize the egg as opposed to the strongest sperm, which means that it is possible for congenital defects to be passed on at a higher rate. As such, it is advised that couples with a history of genetic disease or disorders or with a family that has a history of genetic disease or disorders consult their doctor.

Because ICSI is performed in conjunction with IVF, there is a greater risk of ectopic pregnancy, as well as multiple pregnancies.


The Costs of ICSI

Like in vitro fertilisation, intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an expensive ART procedure. On average, the costs associated with ICSI can range from $10 000 to $17 000.

Visit our forum to talk to others undergoing an ICSI treatment.


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