When couples have a particularly difficult time getting pregnant, and IVF does not work, they often think all hope is lost. While IVF is generally successful, it’s not the last or ultimate option to overcoming infertility. Sometimes, the cause of infertility has to do with the sperm, not necessarily the woman, egg, or uterus, and in those cases, there is another solution available: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ISCI).
ICSI is a revolutionary IVF procedure that provides a fertility solution to men who previously didn’t have one. In 2007, 63% of cases using assisted reproductive technology involved ISCI, proving the effectiveness of the treatment.
Some couples elect for ICSI in order to maximize fertilization. However, this procedure is typically not necessary unless there are sperm-related causes to infertility.
What is ICSI?
ICSI is very similar to in vitro fertilization; the egg and sperm are collected from each partner and then fertilized. With ICSI, fertilization occurs by using a fine glass needle to inject a single sperm directly into the egg.
With this procedure, very few sperm are required and the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg is no longer a factor.
Who Can ICSI Help?
ICSI is considered necessary for couples when an abnormal semen analysis has been observed. The procedure is combined with the IVF to help couples dealing with male infertility. It can be the solution to several issues, including:
- Low Sperm Concentration
- Poor Sperm Motility
- Abnormal morphology
- Sperm Antibodies
- Blockage of the Vas Deferens
- Ejaculate with no sperm
If a man does not have any sperm in his ejaculate, but he is producing sperm, ICSI may be done after testicular sperm extraction (TESE). Sperm that is collected through TESE requires the use of ICSI, since the number of sperm retrieved is low.
In some situations when previous IVF procedures resulted in few or no fertilized eggs, ICSI may be tried during the next cycle.
ICSI may also be a viable option if fertilization is attempted using frozen sperm. Sometimes, thawed sperm do not become especially active, and in those cases, fertilization is more likely to occur if the sperm is injected directly into the egg. Likewise, it may be used when attempting fertilization with frozen eggs; the vitrification, or freezing process, can sometimes harden the egg’s shell. ICSI can help overcome that problem.
The ICSI Treatment Process
The ICSI procedure involves harvesting the sperm using a glass biopsy needle and then transferring the collected sperm into the egg.
Sperm is collected via one of two ways offered at our clinic:
From a woman’s perspective, undergoing an ICSI treatment cycle is exactly the same as a conventional IVF cycle. Since ICSI is done in the lab, the procedure won’t seem much different than an IVF treatment without ICSI.
As with regular IVF, the ovaries are stimulated to encourage the development and maturation of the eggs. The eggs are then removed from the ovaries with a specialized, ultrasound-guided needle. Once the eggs are retrieved, an embryologist will place the eggs in a culture and use a microscope and fine needle to inject a single sperm into an egg. This last step is repeated for each egg that is retrieved. If fertilization occurs, the embryo is transferred back into the uterus.
Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility offers the best execution of these procedures, helping couples affected by male factor infertility.
If you have been told that there are abnormalities with any sperm test results, you may want to give ICSI serious consideration. At AZCREI, we focus on uncovering the cause of infertility, explaining the options, and providing a reliable solution. We will be glad to discuss your situation and help you find the best treatment so that you can have a healthy, happy baby. Set up an appointment today by contacting us online or calling (520) 326-0001.