The Power Of ICSI: 3 Reasons Doctors Suggest Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection During IVF

Adding ICSI To IVF

After months or even years of trying to get pregnant, a couple may decide on in vitro fertilization (IVF), a form of reproductive treatment. IVF is a multi-step approach that requires multiple eggs extracted from a woman to be fertilized with a sperm sample. During the process, the sperm must naturally penetrate the egg’s outer shell to create a healthy embryo. However, there are times when this does not happen. The fertility team may recommend intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in the next cycle. With ICSI, an embryologist uses a miniature pipette to insert a single sperm into the center of the egg. ICSI is not always necessary, but there are times when this procedure improves the chances of a successful pregnancy.

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Are ICSI and IVF the same?

There’s a common belief that ICSI and IVF are distinctly different procedures. Yet, with ICSI, all the steps involved in IVF remain the same. The egg and sperm samples are extracted similarly. The embryos must still wait a specific period before transferring to the uterus. The only difference is the additional help rendered by the embryologist. Conventional IVF depends on thousands of healthy sperm to attempt to fertilize the egg. ICSI bypasses this step, instead using the healthiest sperm possible. In other words, ICSI is an additional step in the IVF process. Here are 3 reasons a doctor will suggest ICSI.

1. Poor sperm health

A successful IVF cycle requires healthy reproductive material from both parties. Most people believe infertility is almost always the woman’s fault. However, men are infertile at equal rates. For many men, the issue is poor sperm health. For the sperm to fertilize the egg during IVF, there should be a high sperm count with healthy, motile sperm. If the sperm is not moving or shaped correctly, there will be challenges. With ICSI, the couple does not have to depend on the movement of the sperm to achieve pregnancy.

2. Sperm extraction is needed

Sometimes, there is no sperm available in the ejaculate. When that happens, the fertility team will use testicular sperm extraction (TESE) or aspiration (TESA) to get a healthy sperm sample. These are surgical procedures. If any successful sperm is harvested, the fertility process cannot be left up to chance. ICSI ensures that the best sperm reaches the center of the available eggs.

3. Are those eggs frozen?

Sometimes, a fertility clinic will opt for ICSI instead of pure IVF when frozen eggs are used. Frozen eggs were previously retrieved and cryopreserved for some time. This is sometimes done due to concerns about fertility and aging or because of a cancer diagnosis. Since the eggs are limited in supply, and another retrieval is often not possible, ICSI increases the chances of healthy embryos.

ICSI may turn the tide

Studies show that IVF is just as successful as ICSI. However, there are times when the process needs more precision, especially if previous cycles have failed. ICSI works best for severe male-factor infertility concerns. If a woman has frozen eggs in limited supply, the couple can also try ICSI. By helping the sperm to penetrate the egg, pregnancy is possible.

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