If you are possibly heading towards doing ART (assisted reproductive technologies) you may be preparing for something called ICSI. ICSI is “Intracytoplasmic sperm injection” and it’s one of the may ways of doing an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) procedure. ICSI is a technique in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. Doctors perform this in order to increase the likelihood of fertilization, and to increase the chances of having a pregnancy and baby. Like other IVF procedures, the process starts with a mature egg which has been retrieved from the woman’s ovaries, during an egg retrieval procedure) and prepared for in vitro fertilization. Sperm from the male partner (or male sperm donor) is retrieved either through ejaculation, or in the case of a vasectomy, a microsurgical vasectomy reversal is done. The mature egg is held in place with a glass pipette under a high-powered magnifying glass. At this point, a single sperm is selected and drawn through a hollow needle into a microscopic glass tube. The needle is then used to penetrate the shell of the egg and insert the individual sperm directly into the cytoplasm. The egg is then placed securely in an incubator and monitored over the next several days to verify that normal fertilization has occurred and the fertilized egg is developing into a healthy embryo.
Not everyone who does IVF is going to do ICSI. ICSI is most useful in cases where an infertility diagnosis is related to low sperm counts, poor sperm motility or quality, or sperm that are unable to penetrate the egg. Sometimes women have eggs that are difficult to penetrate, and ICSI might be used in this case as well. Besides being effective for male infertility, ICSI is also employed to fertilize frozen eggs. In fact, approximately half of all IVF procedures utilize ICSI. In couples with male-factor infertility ICSI can increase fertilization rates upwards of 70% to 80%! Some patients choose ICSI after first trying intrauterine inseminations (IUI) with unsuccessful results. ICSI is also used in cases when resulting embryos will be tested for chromosomal abnormalities, and gender (PGD).
If you have any questions about IVF, ICSI, fertility and assisted reproductive procedures, feel free to call us at Santa Monica Fertility – we are always happy to help you on your path to parenthood.