Fertility Treatments & Services Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) with IVF

The micromanipulation technique called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) can be performed in cases where there is low sperm count or poor semen quality, the two most common causes of male infertility. A single healthy sperm cell is selected from the semen specimen and injected directly into the egg under a microscope. If the egg is successfully fertilized, then the remaining steps in IVF is continued where the fertilized egg is cultured into an embryo and subsequently implanted in the woman’s uterus.

For normal conception, millions of sperm race through a woman’s vagina, pass the cervix, through the uterus and then fallopian tubes to fertilize a single egg (or more in the case of fraternal twins, triplets, etc.). Out of all those that start the race, only one will complete the journey. Each sperm is characterized by its oval head and long tail, which it uses to propel its way through a woman’s reproductive system toward the fallopian tubes. The winning sperm’s head attaches to the outer layer of an unfertilized egg and pushes through to the inner cytoplasm, thus completing the fertilization process. The egg reacts to this by hardening its outer cell wall, negating attempts by other sperm to follow suit.

Sometimes, males produce too few sperm, ill-formed sperm, or sperm that cannot attach themselves to the egg properly. In these cases, ICSI can be a highly successful method of conception. As a part of CHA Fertility Center IVF treatments, our embryologists can insert a tiny needle through the cell wall of an unfertilized egg and deliver a single sperm cell to fertilize it. This is done on a microscopic scale with a micro-pipette and micro-injector being utilized to manipulate the cell and introduce the single sperm into the egg. The sperm’s tail is removed for greater control during the injection process.

With ICSI, 50-80% of eggs are successfully fertilized, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Once this takes place, the now-fertilized egg begins to divide on a cellular level, and the viable embryos are then reintroduced to the woman’s uterus.

In circumstances where standard IVF treatments require manual introduction between egg and sperm, this intimate procedure allows sperm the highest possible chance of fertilizing an egg. As with other in vitro fertilization procedures, these processes are accomplished outside the womb, with the viable embryo being returned to the womb for gestation. The risk of multiple births does not increase through the use of ICSI and, along with Assisted Hatching, is a procedure that offers a high probability of success.

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