ICSI which is short for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a fertility procedure carried out when a couple is unable to conceive a child. It is often used as an integral part of In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and is considered to be most effective for infertile men. In ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. This fertilized egg or embryo is then transferred and placed in the uterus.
When is ICSI recommended?
Through ICSI, the sperm neither has to move towards the egg nor does it need to penetrate the external layers of the egg. It is extremely helpful in cases where the male sperm is unable to reach the egg or cannot fertilize it for some reason. The below mentioned circumstances can be perfect for ICSI to be carried out:
- An unusually low sperm count
- Large quantity of slow (low motility) or abnormally-shaped sperm (poor sperm morphology)
- When the male has suffers from erectile dysfunction or problems with ejaculation due to injuries to the spinal cord or diabetes.
- In case your partner has had an irreversible vasectomy due to which sperm release is restricted (sperm can be collected from the epididymis)
- If you have tried IVF, ICSI will be recommended if enough eggs could not be salvaged or if the eggs retrieved were not fertilized properly.
How is the ICSI process carried out?
The ICSI procedure can be carried out at a reputed fertility hospital and involves the following steps:
- A sharp tube-like needle is used to restrain and pick up a single sperm
- The needle then is injected in the shell of the egg, known as the zona, and pushed into the cytoplasm of the egg.
- The captured sperm is then injected into the cytoplasm
- The eggs are then inspected after 24 hours to check if they have been fertilized properly
How long does ICSI treatment last?
It takes about four to six weeks for a single cycle of ICSI to complete. The retrieval of egg and sperm could require you to spend at least half a day at the doctor’s clinic. The embryo transfer procedure will be done between two to five days after the retrieval is done.
What are the benefits of ICSI?
- ICSI provides that single ray of hope for couples wanting their own genetic child and none of the other options have worked.
- Couples with unexplained fertility have found ICSI to be of great help.
- If the male is unable to ejaculate when it’s time for egg collection for IVF, sperm can be extracted for ICSI.
- There is no effect of ICSI on a child’s mental or physical development
The good news is for infertile couples is that ICSI has helped thousands of similar couples to give birth to babies of their own. Its success rate has replicated that of IVF and has a success ratio of more than 40%. The female partner is given a hormonal injection since the uterus has to be primed for the pregnancy. Check with your doctor before embarking on this journey to understand your chance of success with ICSI.
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