What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection?

4 min read

Written by Bindu Raichura

Bindu Raichura

intracytoplasmic sperm injection
Trying to conceive a baby but haven’t been lucky so far? Do your fertility specialists tell the sperm is unable to successfully fertilize the egg? This is where Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) comes into play. Wondering what is ICSI? Read on to know more about this wonderful scientific breakthrough that can solve your fertility issues.

In This Article

What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection?

ICSI, also known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, is a fertility treatment. In natural conception, sperm enters the egg and fertilizes it. For the sperm to enter, the head of the sperm has to be strong enough to break through the outer barrier of the egg and enter. When the sperm is unable to penetrate this outer layer, a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection is used along with IVF or IUF to help in fertilizing the egg.

ICSI: The Process

Let’s look more into how this intracytoplasmic sperm injection actually works. IVF is a more commonly known fertility treatment/ procedure where a number of sperms are placed next to a mature egg in a laboratory setting. The sperm then fight and one enters the egg successfully, thereby starting the fertilization process.

In the intracytoplasmic sperm injection technique, the sperm is directly injected into the egg. The needle, called a micropipette, will inject the sperm directly into the center of the egg, thus starting the fertilization process. After fertilization, the embryo implants in the uterus after a period of 5 days. The ICSI procedures are pretty simple and can pave the way to having a baby with both parents’ genes.

Will Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Work?

Will Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection Work_

Wondering if ICSI will work? The answer is yes, it does work in 50% to 80% of the cases. However, like in any situation, there is a flip side to this procedure too.

While science does manage to work around nature, it is not foolproof to natural occurrences that are totally out of one’s control. When you opt for an intracytoplasmic sperm injection, it does help the sperm get into the egg and fertilize it. However,

  • Some of the eggs or sometimes, even all the eggs collected for this procedure can be damaged
  • The egg may not get fertilized into an embryo even after the intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • The egg might get fertilized with an intracytoplasmic sperm injection, but the embryo might stop growing

Since this is infertility we are dealing with, one cannot be too sure if there are any additional problems apart from the sperm’s inability to enter the egg.

Can Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection affect Baby’s Development?

With any pregnancy, there is a slight possibility of birth defects or complications that may or may not able to correct with further medical interventions. When you opt to get a sperm injection to get pregnant, you are trying another possibility to start or expand your own family, rather than giving up after trying for quite some time.

When the sperm and egg come together, naturally or unnaturally through such treatments, there are some uncertainties. Some of the possible effects this particular treatment can have on the baby are:

  • A slightly higher chance of birth defects when compared to natural conception – this could very well be because of the fertility issue and not the treatment itself.
  • If the conceived baby is male, it can carry the same issues with his sperms
  • Other genetically passed over issues

Rare But Harmful Effects of ICSI on Baby

Rare But Harmful Effects of ICSI on Baby

Some of the not so common effects intracytoplasmic sperm injection can have on the baby are:

  • Sex Chromosome Abnormalities

There is a risk of an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the male spermatozoa.

  • Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome

This is an overgrowth syndrome, where the baby is larger than normal.

  • Angelman Syndrome

A genetic disorder that can result in delayed development, or speech & balance issues.

  • Hypospadias

Hypospadias is a medical condition that is related to the genitals of your baby boy.

Why would I Need an ICSI?

Why would I Need an ICSI_

If you have been trying to start a family for years and have not been successful, it is time to consider the possibility that there could be some fertility issue with one or both partners. An ICSI is an option when:

The sperms produced are lesser than what is required for other treatments like IUF or IVF

  • Sperms are unable to enter the egg
  • The sperms move differently
  • If matured eggs are used for IVF
  • When frozen eggs are used
  • When you opt for an egg donor
  • A blockage that is stopping the sperms from getting out as required

When the above-mentioned issues are being faced by a couple, this shot is a viable option.

However, one should opt for ICSI treatments only if:

  • They are emotionally ready to accept there is a fertility issue with one or both partners
  • The couple is ready to spend on the treatments as fertility treatments are very expensive
  • Both of them are ready to accept failure and seek other options if the process does not result in a successful pregnancy

The outcome of any fertility treatment, be it ICSI, IUF or IVF is not a guaranteed 100%. The ICSI fertility treatment does help you overcome one possible fertility issue and may or may not result in a successful pregnancy. Couples can have multiple fertility problems. And they can discover it only by addressing one after the other. If the sperm entering the egg is the only problem, ICSI can very well be a solution to your problem.

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Bindu Raichura,

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