Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
What is ICSI?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a powerful assisted reproductive technology (ART) used at the Southern California Reproductive Center (SCRC) in many cases of male infertility. ICSI represented the second major advance in modern fertility treatment – the first being IVF – because it enabled fertility specialists to directly address the problem of male factor infertility. The ICSI procedure directly introduces an individual sperm cell into each of the eggs obtained during the IVF (in vitro fertilization) process. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus to initiate pregnancy. ICSI has proven to be a truly revolutionary technology, giving new hope to many couples who had been unable to conceive.
Related reading: What Is ICSI with IVF?
Is ICSI Right for Me? The Answer Depends on Your Diagnosis!
In order to determine whether ICSI is an appropriate treatment for you, you need to have an accurate diagnosis. It seems obvious, but many couples dealing with infertility think they know what their problem is, but they have never been correctly diagnosed.
Why Use the ICSI Procedure?
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection can be used in most types of male infertility, including:
- Low sperm count
- Absence of sperm in the ejaculate
- Impaired sperm motility (ability to move)
- Abnormal sperm morphology (shape of the sperm)
ICSI can also be helpful in rarer cases of male infertility, such as:
- Problems with sperm binding to and penetrating the egg
- Anti-sperm antibodies (immune or protective proteins which attach to and destroy sperm)
- Prior or repeated fertilization failure with standard IVF culture and fertilization methods
- Frozen sperm collected prior to cancer treatment that may be limited in number and quality
- Absence of sperm due to blockage. In this situation, sperm retrieval is done either from the epididymis by a procedure called microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) or from the testes by testicular sperm aspiration (TESA).
In all the above cases, neither IUI nor routine IVF is effective. Routine IVF procedure involves mixing a large quantity of sperm with the retrieved eggs and incubating them in culture to produce an embryo. The success of this procedure therefore depends upon having enough viable, healthy sperm to achieve fertilization – a condition which obviously does not exist here.
Because the ICSI procedure injects a single sperm directly into the egg, it is a highly-targeted approach to IVF when standard methods are not an option, or have failed.
ICSI is not effective when used to treat infertility resulting from poor egg quality, i.e., female factor infertility.
Does ICSI Have Risks?
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is almost universally considered to be a very low-risk procedure.
As in all aspects of medicine, ICSI comes with its own set of risks and benefits. There are no risks to the male partner once the sperm has been obtained – and only negligible risks if sperm retrieval techniques are used. There may be a very slightly elevated risk of babies conceived with ICSI having certain genetic abnormalities due to the fact that the sperm used may have been abnormal. These abnormalities, however, are usually minor, and risks can be mitigated prior to pregnancy with careful embryo selection and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In summary, numerous studies as well as our experience as fertility specialists at SCRC have demonstrated ICSI to be a safe and effective procedure for IVF in male infertility, with the demonstrated benefits far outweighing any risks.
Why Come to Southern California Reproductive Center for ICSI?
At SCRC, our fertility specialists have performed thousands of ICSI procedures with high success rates. In fact, our IVF lab performs more ICSI procedures than any other fertility center on the West Coast.
Better yet – take a tour of our fertility clinic. See our state-of-the-art embryology lab, where our ICSI procedures are performed. View our surgical facility specifically designed and equipped for fertility matters. Meet our doctors and staff. We believe you’ll agree with thousands of patients who have become proud parents that SCRC is committed to be your fertility center.