Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, ICSI, for Male Infertility

For couples struggling to get pregnant because of male infertility, physicians might recommend intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. Ovation® partner physicians often use this assisted reproductive technology to treat severe male infertility, such as when little or no sperm is present in the ejaculated semen.

ICSI as Part of In Vitro Fertilization, IVF, to Enhance Fertilization

During ICSI, an embryologist will inject a single sperm into an egg obtained through IVF. The hope is that the sperm will fertilize the egg, which can then be placed into the woman’s uterus.

Sperm Collected Manually or Surgically

In many cases, sperm are collected through manual stimulation, or masturbation. However, in some cases, the sperm must be surgically removed from the man’s testicle. This becomes necessary when a man has a problem with sperm development or when he has a blockage that prevents sperm ejaculation.

In cases in which a man has little or no sperm in his semen and has a rare condition known as congenital absence of the vas deferens, a fertility specialist will often recommend genetic carrier screening before starting ICSI. In men with congenital absence of the vas deferens, the male is most likely a carrier for cystic fibrosis (CF).

Preconception carrier screening and IVF with preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic or single-gene defects (PGT-M), available through Ovation Genetics, can help couples conceive healthy babies free of the CF gene.

Five Steps of the Delicate Process of ICSI 

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is a delicate, precise process that fertilizes the egg.

1. The embryologist holds the egg in place using a pipette.

2. The embryologist uses a specialized, hollow needle to pick up a single sperm.

3. The embryologist inserts the needle through the shell of the egg and into the cytoplasm.

4. The embryologist injects the sperm into the cytoplasm and then carefully removes the needle from the egg.

5. After performing this procedure on multiple eggs, the embryologist allows the eggs to culture overnight and then checks them the next morning to see if they’ve been fertilized.

Once ICSI is complete and the embryologist determines that fertilization has been successful, the goal is to transfer a healthy embryo into the uterus that will develop into a single, viable pregnancy.

The fertility specialist then monitors the woman for signs of pregnancy using blood tests and ultrasounds. If a woman becomes pregnant, her pregnancy should proceed as any other. As for any remaining embryos, they can be frozen for later use.

ICSI Successfully Treats Severe Male Factor Infertility

As long as high-quality eggs are available, intracytoplasmic sperm injection is often a successful treatment for male infertility caused by little or no sperm in the semen. In addition, ICSI also is sometimes used by couples after they have experienced failed attempts at IVF.

Would you like more information about ICSI or any other assisted reproductive technology? Please contact an Ovation partner physician today.