Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

ICSI can help if your fertility struggles are linked to problems with sperm. It is very similar to IVF, but instead of mixing sperm and the egg to fertilise, an embryologist will select one sperm and inject it directly into the egg prior to implantation.

We may decide to use ICSI if we believe sperm is unlikely to fertilise the egg naturally. This could be because:

  • sperm count is low
  • sperm are abnormally shaped or do not move normally
  • sperm has a high rate of abnormality
  • sperm has been directly retrieved from the epididymis
  • there are high levels of antibodies in the semen
  • sperm has been frozen
  • previous IVF treatment has not resulted in fertilisation.

Success rates for ICSI are similar to IVF. The treatment plan for IVF with ICSI is exactly the same as traditional IVF. However, if you undergo ICSI, one of our embryologists will inject a single sperm into the egg, rather than leaving the sperm and eggs to fertilise naturally. This increases the chance of fertilisation.

Risks

ICSI comes with slightly more risks than some other fertility treatments. There is a risk that eggs may be damaged when they are injected with sperm. ICSI may also be associated with long-term health issues for children born from the procedure, but there is not enough evidence to conclusively prove or disprove this.

Risks associated with ICSI include:

  • certain genetic and developmental defects in a small number of children born using this treatment; however, the problems linked with ICSI may have been caused by underlying infertility rather than the procedure
  • the possibility that a boy conceived through ICSI may inherit his father’s infertility.

Visit the HFEA website to learn more about this procedure.

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