The intra-cytoplasm sperm injection or ICSI procedure can be used during IVF treatment to increase the chances of successful fertilisation. ICSI isn’t always needed for successful fertility treatment, but it can help when there are problems with the sperm or you have experienced a low fertilisation rate during previous rounds of IVF.
What Happens During ICSI?
The ICSI procedure is slightly different from the more common form of IVF. During ICSI the egg will be fertilised in vitro before being placed into the womb, but the sperm will get a little extra help. Usually in IVF the sperm are simply placed next to the egg and then make their own way towards it. In the ICSI procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg to ensure that fertilisation happens. The IVF procedure can then proceed as normal, with the fertilised egg being injected into the womb.
Who Should Have ICSI?
Since the ICSI procedure ensures that the sperm reaches the egg it is generally recommended when the chances of the sperm managing to get there on its own are low. Your fertility doctor may recommend using ICSI if you have a particularly low sperm count or if there are other problems with the sperm, such as low motility or an unusual shape, that could make it more difficult for one of the sperm cells to make it to the egg. ICSI can also be used if the sperm has been frozen, as this can slightly lower the sperm quality, or if it had to be collected surgically, as this often results in a smaller than normal sample. ICSI can also be used to increase the chances of fertilisation if previous rounds of IVF resulted in no or very few fertilisations. Although the reason for this isn’t always known, the ICSI procedure can help to make the next round of IVF more successful.