What is ICSI?
ICSI is a special technique in which a single sperm is injected into the centre of an egg after egg retrieval. The technique is commonly used when sperm count or motility is low (its ability to swim towards the egg). ICSI is also preferable for a number of reasons, for example combined with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or when sperm DNA fragmentation is high.
How Is ICSI Performed?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves the direct injection of sperm into eggs obtained from the female partner.
In the laboratory, the embryologists will inject a single sperm into each egg.
There are five simple steps to ICSI:
- After the femals egg reteival, the mature egg is held with a specialized pipette.
- A single sperm is injected into the mature egg.
- 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.
- The eggs are checked the following 24 hours for evidence a normal fertilization.
Once the ICSI is completed and fertilization is successful, it will then form into an embryo, the embryo transfer procedure is to place the embryo in the woman’s uterus.
How long does embryos take to develop?
The day after the sperm is injected into each egg, the embryologists will look for signs of fertilisation. The following day they will check to see if the embryo has cleaved. Embryos can be transferred at any stage from day 3 to day 6. By day day 3 the embryo will be a 6 or 8 cell embryo if they wait for day 5 embryos, the embryos should reach to a blastocyst stage.
The embryologists monitors and grades the embryos very carefully. In the majority of cases, if the embryos have developed well, they would not recommend more than 2 embryos to be transferred to reduce the risk of multiple pregnancy.
Embryos that are not transferred?
If you have left over good quality embryos that are not transferred on transfer day, they can be frozen. The embryos that are frozen can be stored for a long time for future transfer.
Is ICSI for me?
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.
We may recommend ICSI if:
- The male partner has a very low sperm count
- The male partner’s sperm has problems such as poor motility (not moving normally) or poor morphology (abnormal shape)
- Previous attempts of concieving attempts have failed
- Sperm needs to be collected surgically from the male’s testicles or epididymis, for instance if he’s had a vasectomy
- You are using frozen sperm in your treatment
- You are undergoing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or screening