Around a third of cases of infertility are related to the sperm quality, and ICSI is one of the main techniques used in IVF to help overcome this. While the rest of the IVF treatment remains the same – the woman taking fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries, is monitoring the follicle growth with scans and blood tests as required, then performing a collection to retrieve the eggs – the difference comes at the fertilisation stage.
After retrieving sperm from the male partner (either through ejaculation or a surgical sperm retrieval procedure), we directly inject one single sperm into each egg, instead of mixing the sperm with the eggs and leaving them to fertilise like in standard IVF. By bypassing the difficulty of the sperm actually reaching and penetrating the egg, the chances of fertilisation are greatly increased..
Of course, the chances of overall success remain the same as in normal IVF, but it’s one obstacle overcome. Generally, we recommend ICSI for men with low sperm counts, if their sperm do not have normal movement or shape, if the couple has struggled with IVF fertilisation before, or if the man needs sperm collected surgically from the testicles or epididymis (a structure above the testicle where sperm is stored and matures).