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Fertility Treatments

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

What Is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection?

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI is a procedure designed to improve fertilization in cases of male infertility due to sperm-related problems. The goal of ICSI is fertilization. With ICSI, fertilization usually succeeds in 50-80% of injected eggs.

How Are IVF and ICSI the Same and Different?

First and foremost, ICSI is a procedure that requires the same steps as conventional In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In IVF and in IVF with ICSI, the woman must undergo ovarian stimulation with medication, to release multiple eggs that are harvested, and sperm from the male partner is collected and processed.

The difference between IVF and IVF with ICSI is the method of fertilization. In IVF without ICSI, the egg and thousands of sperm are mixed together in the lab, and sperm fertilizes the egg naturally. But, when there are a limited number of healthy sperm, or the sperm is unable to penetrate and fertilize the egg, ICSI offers hope for parenthood.

In IVF with ICSI, only a single sperm is injected into the egg, to create an embryo, which is then implanted into the female’s uterus.

The ability to select and inject a single healthy sperm into the egg requires specialized skills and proficiency. The experienced reproductive endocrinologists at Ohio Reproductive Medicine use specialized equipment to carefully choose the sperm to inject into the egg. A single sperm is chosen to inject into a mature, healthy egg, to overcome male factor infertility.

ICSI maximizes the chance of fertilization because it circumvents problems of the sperm being unable to penetrate and fertilize the egg. Even when the sperm are immature, and must be collected from the testicles, the chance of fertilization is good.

What Are the Main Reasons for Choosing ICSI?

  • Severe male factor infertility and the couple doesn’t want a sperm donor
  • Low sperm motility
  • Low sperm count
  • Abnormally shaped sperm
  • A blockage in the male reproductive system that prohibits the release of sperm in ejaculate

Other Reasons To Use ICSI

  • Prior failure of fertilization with IVF
  • Where egg quality and quantity are low
  • Unexplained infertility

Because male factor infertility is responsible for about 30% of infertility cases when the cause is sperm–related, ICSI is the most successful assisted reproductive technique. However, poor quality or immature eggs will not be helped by ICSI.

Fertilization with ICSI is successful in 50-80% of cases. But, that does not mean pregnancy is guaranteed. Many other factors such as the woman’s age, and previous fertility problems, will affect the pregnancy rate.

What Are the Risks of ICSI?

Generally, the risks of ICSI are the same as for IVF, including overstimulation of the ovaries. Men with sperm problems are often advised to undergo genetic testing before ICSI to determine whether there is a risk of passing a genetic disorder to their children. In a few cases, the egg may be damaged, or the fertilized egg may not grow into an embryo or may stop growing.

What Are the Benefits of ICSI?

  • Implantation rates are the same as with IVF alone.
  • The ability to conceive a genetically related child, when other fertility options are not likely to help.
  • If ejaculation or sperm production is a problem, sperm can be extracted.
  • ICSI can help men, who have a physical problem or previous vasectomy, father a child.
  • Preimplantation genetic testing (PGD) can be used to screen embryos for chromosome abnormalities or genetic disorders, to avoid passing on a genetic disorder to offspring.

Can ICSI Affect a Baby’s Development?

ICSI allows many couples who couldn’t otherwise do so, to have children. Still, fertility treatments are not perfect.

  • Birth Defects – Pregnancy conceived naturally has a 1.5%- 3% chance of a baby born with a major birth defect. ICSI and IVF have both been associated with a slightly higher risk for birth defects and chromosome abnormalities than a natural conception. But, this may be due to infertility and not the treatment.
  • Preterm Delivery and Low Birth Weight- Preterm delivery and low birth weight are similar for pregnancies conceived by IVF, and IVF with ICSI, according to a newly published study released January 9, 2018.

Ohio Reproductive Medicine is central Ohio’s first, and largest IVF program. Located in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio Reproductive Medicine offers a combined 100 years of reproductive endocrinology and infertility experience. Doctors Elizabeth Kennard, Laura Londra, Grant Schmidt, and Brooke Rossi have been helping create families since 1987. Stress and anxiety are a natural response to a diagnosis of infertility, and treatment. Ohio Reproductive Medicine has the expertise, resources, and compassion to help you survive the process. Schedule fertility testing at our fertility clinic today.