intracytoplasmic sperm injection (icsi)

What is ICSI?

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (we just say “ick see” for short) is a procedure where a single sperm is manually inserted directly into an unfertilized egg. ICSI is performed by highly skilled embryologist using extremely sensitive tools called micromanipulators to inject the sperm via tiny pipettes known as microinjectors. The procedure is performed with the assistance of an inverted microscope built into a specialized anti-vibration table. You can get a closer look at an ICSI workstation on our Lab Tour (link to lab tour).

Embryologist perform sperm selection by observing the sperm at high magnification. Sperm that have a strong forward progression to their movement (motile), and a normal head shape and form (morphology) are the best candidates for ICSI.

What is ICSI?

When is ICSI Used?

  • Male Infertility: Conceiving a child requires only a single healthy sperm to reach the egg. Infertility sometimes occurs when the sperm cannot penetrate the permeable barrier around the egg (the zona pellucida), cannot fertilize the egg, or cannot reach it. Often, issues with fertilization can arise as a result ofmale factor infertility. Research studies show that approximately one third of all infertility cases are due to male infertility issues.
  • Previous failed IVF attempts without ICSI:  In IVF without ICSI, eggs and sperm are placed in the culture media in an incubator so that fertilization can occur, but in some cases fertilization does not occur.  ICSI has been shown in multiple studies to increase the fertilization rate, and can therefore improve outcomes for these patients.
  • Low Ovarian Reserve or Few Available Eggs:  When a woman is believed to have low ovarian reserve, or if few high quality eggs are aspirated at retrieval, ICSI may be used simply to increase the likelihood of success.

ICSI Process Step By Step

ICSI is always performed in conjunction with IVF.  Before we can perform ICSI, we need healthy, mature egg(s).  For most patients, this means several office visits over the course of a few months, numerous lab tests and ultrasounds, followed by an egg retrieval procedure during which our reproductive endocrinologist will aspirate as many mature eggs as possible.  We also need sperm, which will be washed to separate individual sperm from the semen sample.  Once both sperm and egg are on hand, ISCI can be performed at the micromanipulation workstation.
  • One by one, each egg is positioned next to a specialized pipette with rounded edges that is designed to hold the egg during injection.
  • Another specialized pipette with a sharp tip is used remove the tail and pick up a single sperm.
  • With extreme care, the needle is inserted into past the zona (the hard outer shell of the egg) into the cytoplasm in the middle.
  • The sperm is then injected into the middle of the egg and the pipette is pulled back.
  • The egg and sperm are then placed into incubators and the next day our embryologist perform a fertilization check.
As many as 85% of eggs that are injected via ICSI achieve fertilization.  These fertilized eggs grow in the laboratory for five days while being carefully monitored for normal development milestones.

Pregnancy Success with ICSI

ICSI has had incredible success in treating male factor infertility, greatly increasing the chances of fertilization.  This is often due to the high quantity of good quality, mature eggs retrieved from a female partner with normal fertility.  In cases of extreme male infertility it is often still possible for an experienced embryologists to identify sperm with normal motility and morphology to use in ICSI. Even where no male factor issues are present, ICSI can greatly enhance the odds of successful pregnancy through IVF. This is thought to be due to increased fertilization rates versus standard IVF.

How Much Does ICSI Cost?

ICSI is one of the five stages of IVF and there is no additional cost to the patient.

ICSI Standards Care at Aspire

Many fertility clinics offer ICSI, but it comes at an additional price. Aspire believes that a treatment proven to increase the chances of pregnancy and live birth ought to be the standard of care. We offer ICSI as an integral part of IVF treatment, at no extra cost to our patients.

Schedule a Consultation

Our team can help answer your questions and provide information to help you make decisions that are right for you.  We would love the opportunity to discuss ICSI with you in person. Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians and or email Aspire with any questions. You can also schedule an appointment at either clinic online or call the Houston Clinic at (713) 425-3003 and the Dallas Clinic at (214) 414-3806.