What is ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) treatment?
The technique of injecting the sperm cell into the cytoplasm of the egg is known as ICSI Treatment (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection). This treatment is a specialized form of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) that is used for the treatment of severe cases of male-factor infertility. ICSI treatment involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg. This treatment is performed in parallel with IVF where after suitable stimulation the retrieved eggs from a woman are mixed with the partner’s sperm.
When is ICSI treatment beneficial?
During ICSI treatment the sperm doesn’t have to travel to the egg or penetrate the outer layers of the egg.
Your doctor may recommend ICSI if there is any difficulty in achieving fertilization due to male infertility factors. The factors include:
- Low sperm count
- Poor sperm motility
- Decreased ability of sperm to penetrate into the egg
- Previous unsuccessful IVF procedure
How is ICSI treatment performed?
As with standard IVF treatment, you will be given fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to develop several mature eggs for fertilization. When your eggs are ready for a collection they will be retrieved through a short outpatient procedure. The collected eggs are used immediately or frozen and used later on.
Meanwhile, the sperms are collected from the semen sample of the male partner. These sperms are washed and a single best sperm is chosen.
This sperm is injected carefully into the cytoplasm of the egg by using very fine needles. The entire procedure of fertilization is carried out under a very powerful microscope.
This fertilized egg is then placed in the incubator. Such an egg begins to show signs of fertilization after 24 hrs. The egg continues to divide and form an embryo.
When the embryo is 3 days old having 8 cells, it is ready to be transferred to the uterus. Or the transfer may be done on day 5 and is called a Blastocyst transfer.
If you’re just having one embryo transferred (called elective single embryo transfer, or eSET), having a blastocyst transfer can improve your chances of a successful, healthy, single baby. If all goes well, an embryo will attach to your uterus wall and continue to grow to become your baby. After about two weeks, you will be able to take a pregnancy test.
What are the risks associated with ICSI?
You may have a higher risk of congenital conditions in your baby. During natural conception, only the hardiest sperm manage to break through the membrane of an egg to fertilize it. Weaker sperm doesn’t make it. But because ICSI treatment bypasses this natural selection process, there’s an increased risk of rare genetic problems carried by the sperm being passed on to the child. Some but not all genetic problems can be tested for before you have the treatment.