What is Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. Defective sperm function remains the single most important cause of human infertility.Although certain severe forms of male infertility have a genetic origin, others may be the result of environmental factors. During the past decade, ICSI has been applied increasingly around the world to alleviate problems of severe male infertility in human patients who either could not be assisted by conventional IVF procedures or could not be accepted for IVF because too few motile and morphologically normal sperm were present in the ejaculate of the male partner.
In Simple Terms
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves the direct injection of sperm into eggs obtained from in vitro fertilization (IVF).
How Is ICSI Performed?
There are basically five simple steps to ICSI which include the following:
- The mature egg is held with a specialized pipette.
- A very delicate, sharp, and hollow needle is used to immobilize and pick up a single sperm.
- The needle is then carefully inserted through the shell of the egg and into the cytoplasm of the egg.
- The sperm is injected into the cytoplasm, and the needle is carefully removed.
- The eggs are checked the following day for evidence of normal fertilization.
Once the steps of ICSI are complete and fertilization is successful, the embryo transfer procedure is used to physically place the embryo in the woman’s uterus. Then it is a matter of watching for early pregnancy symptoms. The fertility specialist may use a blood test or ultrasound to determine if implantation and pregnancy has occurred.
Are There Specific Situations Where ICSI Might Be Recommended?
ICSI may be recommended when there is a reason to suspect that achieving fertilization may be difficult. ICSI is most often used with couples who are dealing with male infertility factors. Male infertility factors can include any of the following: low sperm counts, poor motility or movement of the sperm, poor sperm quality, sperm that lack the ability to penetrate an egg, or azoospermia.
Azoospermia is a condition where there is no sperm in the male’s ejaculation. There are two types of azoospermia: obstructive and non-obstructive.
Obstructive azoospermia may be caused by any of the following:
- Previous vasectomy
- Congenital absence of vas
- Scarring from prior infections
Non-obstructive azoospermia occurs when a defective testicle is not producing sperm. In the case of azoospermia, the probability of obtaining usable sperm is low, and the possibility of using donor sperm may be considered.