ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection and is an extension on traditional IVF. ICSI involves injecting a single sperm into each egg, rather than relying on the efforts of the sperm to penetrate the egg alone.
ICSI is used to treat infertility that is related to male infertility, where sperm numbers or function may be impaired. It is also useful where previous attempts at ovulation induction, artificial insemination and/or routine IVF have been unsuccessful.
Your Doctor will recommend ICSI to you if you or your partner have:
Just like IVF, the drugs used in the controlled ovarian hyperstimulation stage of an ICSI cycle are designed to “hijack” your normal menstrual cycle, stimulating the ovaries to produce more than one egg. Therefore, any symptoms that you associate with your normal cycle will be exaggerated by this process, and can include: moodiness, hot flushes, dizziness, mild abdominal discomfort, bloating and tiredness.
ICSI treatment involves six main stages:
The first stage of the ICSI process involves the administration of hormones to stimulate your ovaries. We will monitor your response to the medication closely, using regular blood tests and ultrasound. Unlike ovulation induction and artificial insemination, the aim in COH is to produce multiple follicles, rather than just one or two.
When your follicles approach maturity and your oestrogen level reaches its peak, you will be instructed to administer your trigger medication, a time-sensitive medication determines the time of your TVOA approximately 36 hours later. It is a quick procedure that can take place either in an operating theatre under a general anaesthetic, or under a local anaesthetic in our treatment room.
Once the eggs have been collected from your ovaries and the semen sample has been prepared, the eggs and sperm are brought together in the laboratory. Each mature egg is very carefully injected by one of our highly trained Embryologists with a single, healthy sperm using a microscopic glass needle.
The morning after ICSI has taken place, the Embryologists will assess your eggs for fertilisation. Keeping you advised along the way, your embryos will then be grown, or cultured, in the laboratory for up to six days.
At Fertility North, embryo transfers take place between day 1 (when the embryos tend to be a single cell) and day 6 (where the embryos should have achieved the blastocyst stage, with hundreds of cells).
During your embryo transfer, the doctor will very gently insert a speculum into your vagina, as your GP would for a Pap smear, and a fine, soft tube is then carefully passed through the cervix allowing the embryo to be placed carefully into your uterus.
In the fortnight after your embryo transfer, your hormone levels will be monitored and supported, if necessary, until the outcome of your cycle is known.
The procedural risks of ICSI are the same as for conventional IVF.
Whilst extensive trials have been completed into the safety of ICSI and the embryologists undertaking the procedure are experienced, you may still encounter:
Not all eggs collected may be suitable quality or mature enough to undergo the injection procedure. If very few eggs are collected, none may be suitable for ICSI. Due to the delicate nature of the procedure, some eggs may not survive the ICSI process.
Evidence indicates that there is no increased risk of birth defects in children conceived by ICSI as opposed to routine IVF.
This inheritable cause for male infertility can be screened for and currently, at Fertility North, we offer screening for Y-chromosone deletions to male partners of couples who are about to undergo ICSI for low sperm counts.
While ICSI can be used to overcome even the most challenging cases of infertility, it still does not have guaranteed results. Before you embark on any treatment, it is important to understand the success rates of ICSI, and your Doctor will discuss these and how they relate to your own unique circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about our affordable IVF prices and competitive IVF success rates, or if you would like to get started on your treatment journey with us, please contact our friendly Administration team.