ClientBlogIntracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI treatment)
Fertility treatment

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI treatment)

Couple who have had ICSI treatment to get pregnant

Fertility treatment is often a necessary step on the path to parenthood for single women, lesbian couples, and heterosexual couples experiencing infertility. While it may be an expected part of the journey for some, it can be an element of surprise to others. Regardless of the circumstances, it is common for those embarking on fertility journeys to encounter a range of new terminology and abbreviations. In this article, we want to explain you the process of ICSI treatment (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and when you should consider this type of clinic procedure.

What is ICSI treatment?

ICSI treatment is short for intracytoplasmic sperm injection and is one of the most advance methods of assisted reproduction. During ICSI, a single sperm cell is selected and injected directly into the egg using a microscopic needle. This careful placement of the sperm increases the chances of fertilization, and if such occurs, the fertilized egg will be placed into an incubator to develop into an embryo. The embryo will then be transferred into the woman's uterus and hopefully become a successfull pregnancy.

Who needs ICSI treatment?

ICSI treatment is recommended when the man has low sperm motility or quality. It is typically used when male infertility is a factor in a relationship, because the sperm cells of the afflicted can be handled to increase the chances of them fertilizing an egg. In some cases, ICSI treatment is also done with donor sperm and can be recommended as an alternative to IVF treatment.

Fertility doctor in fertility treatment

How does ICSI treatment work?

Step 1: Hormone stimulation

The first step of ICSI treatment is for the woman to take reproductive hormones to stimulate the production of eggs in the ovaries. Normally, only one egg matures during ovulation but with the help of reproductive hormones, multiple eggs will mature in the ovaries.

Step 2: Egg retrieval

When the eggs have matured, they are removed from the woman's ovaries using a small needle. Before the egg retrieval, the woman is required to take a trigger shot to induce ovulation and release the eggs. The procedure is generally painless, but women may feel some discomfort in the abdominal area in the following days.

Step 3: Sperm retrieval

Like egg retrieval, the sperm cells must also be collected for use in the ICSI treatment process. There are three methods for sperm retrieval: ejaculation, surgery, or inserting a narrow tube in the scrotum, where the sperm cells are stored and matured (epididymis).

Illustration of the ICSI process

Illustration of the ICSI process

Step 4: Fertilization of eggs in the laboratory

In the laboratory, the best sperm cells are carefully selected from either the male partner or a sperm donor. Once a single sperm cell has been chosen, it is injected directly into one of the retrieved eggs using a microscopic needle.

Step 5: Development of eggs in an incubator

After fertilization is completed, the egg is moved to an incubator to continue its growth. Hopefully, it develops into an embryo in the following days.

Step 6: Egg transfer

When embryos have developed, an physician will transfer one from the incubator to the woman's uterus, where a pregnancy hopefully occurs. If more than one embryo develops sufficiently, they can be frozen and stored for another attempt or future siblings.

Pregnant woman receiving an examination

The difference between ICSI treatment and other types of fertility treatment

The main difference between ICSI treatment and other types of fertility treatment is the level of invasiveness and complexity involved, as well as the time required at the fertility clinic and the potential effects on the woman's body.

ICSI is a more complex procedure compared to other types of fertility treatment such as ICI (home insemination), IUI, and IVF. In ICI and IUI, sperm is inserted into the cervix or uterus using a thin plastic tube, and the procedure is relatively quick and painless, taking around 15 minutes to complete. IVF is more like ICSI where the egg must be retrieved before fertilization. In IVF treatment the egg is placed with multiple sperm cells in a petri dish compared to ICSI, where the egg is fertilized by a single sperm cell.

Frequently asked questions about ICSI treatment

Is ICSI better than IVF?

ICSI treatment has an average pregnancy success rate of 24%. However, studies have shown no significant difference in success rates when comparing ICSI to IVF. It is important to understand success rates may vary depending on different factors like lifestyle, age, and any genetic conditions that may affect fertility in you or your partner.

Does ICSI increase the chances of pregnancy?

Yes. Because ICSI entails the direct placement of a sperm cell into the egg, it sure can increase chances of pregnancy for couples or singles struggling with infertility.

What are the chances of having twins with ICSI treatment?

There is a higher possibility of having twins with ICSI treatment because it is standard procedure to transfer two or more embryos. The number of embryos transferred will typically be decided between you, your partner (if you have one), and a fertility doctor.

Moving forward

Infertility affects around 15% of couples trying to conceive. Thankfully, there are multiple tools available for people to overcome such a common issue.

If you are struggling with infertility as a man, one option is ICSI treatment with donor sperm. If you are struggling with infertility as a woman and because of the quality of your eggs, you may want to look into becoming pregnant using donor eggs.

If you are interested in finding a sperm or egg donor, Cryos can help. Click the buttons belows and start your FREE donor search today!

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