ICSI, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

In ICSI (pronounced ICK-see), a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. This technique is used when there are too few sperm, or when the sperm are unable to penetrate and fertilize the egg on their own. Developed in 1992, ICSI provides couples with severe male factor infertility the chance to conceive their own child, which was previously not possible with regular IVF fertilization.

ICSI Infertility Treatment
Using ICSI to inject a sperm into an egg’s cytoplasm
Move your mouse over the image for more information

Do we need to use ICSI?

If you have had consistently poor semen samples, or have had your sperm recovered surgically, or have had previous IVF cycles with poor fertilization results, you may need to use ICSI.

Does ICSI guarantee that the egg will fertilize and become an embryo?

No, unfortunately no procedure can guarantee fertilization. But ICSI will give about the same chance of fertilization that you would have with healthy, normally functioning sperm.

ICSI Procedure

Performed using a powerful microscope and special micromanipulation techniques, ICSI requires great skill to pick up the single sperm and inject it without causing damage.

  • The thousands of tiny follicular cells still clinging to the egg’s outer surface are removed with an enzyme solution.
  • A holding pipette holds the egg in place with gentle suction.
  • A single healthy-looking sperm is selected, and picked up using a hollow glass microneedle.
  • The needle’s sharp tip is carefully pushed through the zona pellucida, the egg’s tough outer covering, and then through the wall of the egg, into the egg’s center.
  • The sperm cell is injected into the egg, and the needle is withdrawn.