People often ask, what is ICSI? ICSI stands for ‘intracytoplasmic sperm injection’ so you can see why we abbreviate it! ICSI is not a fertility treatment as such, but rather a laboratory procedure designed to help increase the chances of obtaining fertilized embryos. 

What is the difference between IVF and ICSI?

In standard In vitro fertilization (IVF), eggs are collected from the ovaries under sedation, placed in a fluid optimised for fertilisation, and mixed with high quality motile sperm purified from ejaculate. The sperm then swims to the eggs and fertilises them – much as they would do in the body, only with a much shorter distance to travel.  

In ICSI, most of the process is the same, the difference is that each egg is injected with a single sperm in the laboratory to trigger fertilisation. 

Who would benefit from ICSI?

ICSI is used when the sperm sample has suboptimal parameters which suggests that simple IVF would be too challenging. In this case we give them a “lift” to the egg and even make the introduction ourselves! It may also help in cases where fertilisation didn’t work well before with standard IVF.  

Some specific procedures also require ICSI. For instance, when sperm is surgically retrieved it has skipped some of the maturing process it normally gains as it moves through the male body, and so it needs the extra help of ICSI.  

Generally, a consultant or clinical embryologist can give advice about what the most appropriate method is for you. At Kind iVF, our initial fertility assessments include a semen analysis for relevant parties, so we can help you identify whether you may need to consider an ICSI procedure as part of our patient pathway

What are the main advantages of ICSI?

Normal IVF will help 65-75% of the eggs to fertilise (on average), but if something is going wrong with fertilisation then this rate can drop below 50% or even to zero. ICSI is there to assist in these cases.  

ICSI will give a very similar average rate of fertilisation, but in the cases where the extra help of ICSI is needed, it can make the difference between no fertilisation and a normal fertilisation rate. 

Anything else I should know?

  • Cost: There are extra costs to doing ICSI, but the process you go through will be no different.  
  • Potential egg damage: With ICSI we assess eggs for maturity at the time of ICSI and exclude immature eggs, unlike in IVF where the eggs may continue to mature whilst incubated with sperm overnight, potentially leading to a slightly larger egg number available for fertilisation with IVF. Pushing the needle into the egg may lead to some eggs becoming damaged, on average less than 5%.  
  • Potential birth defects: Some studies have indicated that the use of ICSI as a treatment can marginally increase the risks of birth defects or long-term health issues in children born, although the research is in its early days and it’s difficult to assess how much of this increase is due to the technique, and how much a product of fertility issues.  
  • Potential inherited male infertility: Boys born from ICSI are also at risk of inheriting male infertility if that infertility was genetically based. 

Our friendly enquiries team is available to answer any questions you may have about Kind ICSI and you can book an appointment to assess your current fertility status and/ or begin treatment with our trusted team of experts at Kind iVF. 

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