Skip to main content
Pregnant woman looking at ultrasound image

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Request a Consultation
Sometimes natural fertility is not possible for couples to achieve, leading them to consider assisted reproductive technology (ART), often in vitro fertilization (IVF).

All infertile couples hope to increase the chance of pregnancy at every possible opportunity, and when IVF is pursued, the addition of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) may help.

“I love seeing the transformation people undergo from being discouraged to seeing the ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat. This is a process that transforms lives.”

Dr. Stephan Krotz

What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection?

During traditional IVF an egg and thousands of sperm are placed together into a laboratory dish where a sperm can naturally fertilize the egg. When Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is added to the process, an embryologist injects a single sperm directly into the egg to achieve fertilization. In both cases, the fertilized egg (embryo) will then be incubated for 3-5 days before being frozen for future use.

When is ICSI used?

ICSI can be used during any IVF cycle to improve chances of fertilization, but it is especially helpful in cases of male-factor infertility and can be used to overcome the following.

ICSI can be used to overcome the following:

  • Low sperm count
  • Abnormal sperm shape (morphology)
  • Ineffective sperm movement (motility)
  • Blockages or other anatomic issues preventing sperm from entering semen
  • Past vasectomy

ICSI may also be an important addition to IVF when few eggs are retrieved from the female partner, as it improves the odds of fertilization, or when IVF without ICSI has failed in the past.

Does Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection improve pregnancy rates?

While the use of ICSI does not guarantee a viable pregnancy, it does improve the odds of egg fertilization. When ICSI is used with IVF greater than 90% of eggs are fertilized.

While fertilized eggs are incubated, an embryologist evaluates their growth to be able to select the best one(s) for implantation into the patient. If more eggs are successfully fertilized when using ICSI than with traditional IVF alone, then there are more embryos to watch grow and there is a better selection when it comes time to decide which embryos to transfer for implantation. If the most viable embryo(s) is (are) selected, then there is a greater chance of successful pregnancy.

What are the risks of ICSI?

ICSI can improve your chances of success with IVF, but the process is not perfect. There are some risks to consider such as damage to embryos during the procedure and possible birth defects.

Although our fertility lab uses the utmost care in performing ICSI, a small number of eggs may be damaged when injected. If you had a low egg yield during harvesting, you may not want to take the risk of damaged eggs. However, ICSI might be even more important in those cases because it increases the odds of fertilization of your small number of eggs.

It is not yet known why there is a slight increase in the number of birth defects when using ICSI, but it is theorized that it is because the process allows eggs to become fertilized by lower quality sperm that would not otherwise be able to fertilize an egg naturally.

Your Inovi Fertility Specialist will be happy help you weigh the risks and benefits of ICSI in order to determine if it’s right for you.

Contact Us
Dr. Krotz handing a patient a brochure