ICSI Treatment

What is ICSI, Should You Opt for It?

In-vitro fertilization or IVF is a process of assisted reproduction that involves the incubation of human eggs in a controlled environment with the help of chemicals and drugs. In this procedure, the male partner’s sperm is first checked for its quality and quantity before it is used to fertilize an egg. However, some men produce little or no sperm even after extensive testing. These men are said to have impaired spermatogenesis. Under such circumstances, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) comes as a godsend. Referred to as micro-IVF or micro-assisted hatching (MAA), ICSI is a technique by which technicians inject a single sperm directly into an egg. The following explains what ICSI is, its benefits, risks and costs:

What is ICSI?

ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. It is a form of assisted reproduction where a single sperm is injected into an egg for fertilization. The process was developed to treat men with fertility issues, most often low sperm count or sperm with poor motility.

It is also used with women who have a diminished ovarian reserve or are on certain medications that can affect egg quality. During standard in vitro fertilization (IVF), sperm is placed in a Petri dish with the woman’s eggs to create fertilization. To fertilize the egg in ICSI, a single sperm is placed inside the egg to directly inject its DNA into the egg.

Why Opt for ICSI?

There are many reasons why a couple may choose ICSI for their fertilization treatment. The process is most often chosen if a man has low sperm count, if his sperm does not look normal, or if his sperm cannot swim well. ICSI can also be used if a woman has certain fertility issues such as ovulation problems, reduced egg quality, or if she has had previous pelvic surgery.

Other conditions that may lead to ICSI include a history of prior radiation therapy, prior chemotherapy, varicocele, mumps or testicular injury. ICSI is also used if the woman is older than 35 years, if she has had prior failed IVF attempts, or if she has had a failed embryo transfer.

Risks of ICSI

  • Complications during egg retrieval: Though rare, complications could occur during the egg retrieval process, leading to possible scarring or reduced fertility in the future.
  • Risk of multiple births: ICSI increases the risk of multiple births.
  • Risk of birth defects: Though the exact risk of birth defects is unknown, it has been suggested that using ICSI increases the risk for birth defects, particularly related to the heart.
  • Risk of spontaneous abortion: ICSI also increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, or the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week.
  • Risk of infection: Because the retrieval process involves placing a needle directly into the ovaries, there is a risk of infection.


ICSI is a type of assisted reproductive technology that is used to treat infertility in men or women who have problems with their sperm and eggs. With ICSI, technicians take one of the woman’s eggs and inject it with a man’s sperm. ICSI is used when there is a problem with the sperm and/or the eggs.

Together, these two techniques have helped millions of infertile couples conceive and have resulted in over a million births worldwide. What’s more, they have also widened the scope of infertility treatments to include men with low sperm counts and women who have reduced egg quality. If you are one such person, you should consider ICSI for a higher chance of conception.