Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

To achieve fertilization, sperm must first attach to the egg and then penetrate its outer layer to get inside the egg cytoplasm. In many male infertility cases, sperm aren’t able to break through these barriers to achieve egg fertilization. Fortunately, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is highly effective at helping prospective parents to overcome this obstacle.

ICSI is an add-on technique that is used along with IVF to improve the odds of fertilization success. With ICSI, a single live sperm is used to fertilize an egg rather than requiring the usual hundreds of thousands of sperm that IVF typically needs.

Below, male fertility expert Dr. Paul Turek of the world-famous Turek Clinic discusses how ICSI is used in IVF cases by some fertility experts.

Problems That ICSI Addresses

ICSI is often performed in cases where:

  • Traditional IVF has previously failed
  • Older or frozen eggs are used for IVF
  • Insufficient numbers of sperm are available to do artificial insemination
  • The sperm has difficulty attaching to or penetrating the egg
  • The sperm does not move normally
  • The male reproductive tract is obstructed and cannot be repaired, and harvested sperm is needed
  • The only sources of sperm are from the testicle or epididymis in cases of azoospermia

How ICSI Works

After collecting either ejaculated or organ-harvested sperm, the fertility expert crushes the sperm tail to immobilize it. A microscopic pipette (needle) is then used to inject a single sperm into an egg, through its outer shell. This maximizes the chance of fertilization by removing the risk that sperm won’t penetrate the egg. If fertilization is successful, the egg (now an embryo) can develop properly and be used to achieve a pregnancy.

With ICSI, mature sperm found in any reproductive organ, even in very low single-digit numbers, can be used to achieve pregnancy with great success. This means that fertility experts can find, collect and use sperm from the testicle, vas deferens or epididymis, increasing the opportunity for men with infertility problems to become fathers. Prior to the advent of ICSI, sperm found in the testis or epididymis was considered unusable because it is too immature to achieve fertilization with IVF alone. ICSI bypasses this sperm immaturity issue and helps sperm fertilize eggs regardless of their ability to move or penetrate and fertilize eggs on their own. Even more remarkably, successful conception can be achieved using sperm harvested from any male reproductive organ.

The Success of ICSI

In fertility clinics throughout the country, ICSI is now used in 75% of all IVF cases.

Eggs that have been treated with ICSI fertilize up to 75% of the time. It is still possible for an embryo to develop improperly or not at all after fertilization, as many other factors play important downstream roles to contribute to IVF success. Rarely, eggs are damaged by the ICSI process, which can also hinder development.

Consult with Dr. Turek

Throughout his reputable career, Dr. Turek has been at the forefront of fertility medicine. He understands which techniques are most beneficial to his patients. To discuss ICSI and other options with an expert, please call 1-888-TUREKMD to arrange a consultation.