Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. A process by which sperm is placed into the heart of the egg under a high powered microscope. ICSI is recommended where there is a risk of low or failed fertilisation with IVF.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (also abbreviated to ICSI) is a micromanipulation technique that may be used during a patient’s in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. During this procedure, a single sperm cell will be injected into an individual egg cell in the hope of achieving successful fertilisation. 

Only one healthy, motile sperm cell is needed for each egg collected as part of this IVF treatment type. As such, it is a very viable option for patients with low sperm counts.

By choosing to go through with this form of treatment, patients who might otherwise have had a poor chance at conceiving a child with their partner may have the opportunity to fertilise an egg. This also includes patients who might have found it difficult to achieve fertilisation even through other assisted reproductive technologies.

Once the sperm cells have been injected into the eggs, it is entirely possible that they will produce viable embryos that are suitable for transferring back into the womb. From this, it is entirely possible that the person’s partner or a surrogate could carry a pregnancy and go on to give birth to a healthy child.

An ICSI IVF cycle may be recommended to you if:

  • You or your partner have been found to have a very low sperm count
  • You or your partner have sperm with an unusual morphology (shape) or poor motility (ability to move)
  • You or your partner have trouble maintaining an erection or ejaculating
  • You or your partner need your sperm collected surgically from the testicles or epididymis (a narrow tube inside the scrotum where the sperm are stored and matured)
  • You or your partner are found to have a high level of antibodies in your semen
  • You are planning on using frozen sperm that is not of the highest quality
  • You’re having embryo testing carried out for a genetic condition
  • You’ve undergone IVF treatments before and none (or very few) of the eggs fertilised during the process
  • You or your partner are found to have a high level of DNA fragmentation.

It is also important to note that there are certain circumstances in which this treatment will not be for you and your partner. These include cases where you have undergone treatment before, only to find that poor quality or immature eggs meant that the sperm and eggs had difficulty fertilising.

For patients who have not experienced this issue, ICSI success rates are generally favourable. According to the NHS, 60-70% of eggs that are injected will be fertilised as a result. After this step in the treatment is complete and the embryo has been implanted in the patient’s womb, the success rates are the same as they are for Natural or Conventional IVF procedures.