Assisted fertility techniques can be extremely confusing for lay people. If you know what IVF is, but have not heard of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) before, you are one of many. What does intracytoplasmic sperm injection involve, how does it differ from invitro fertilization, and most of all, who benefits from this treatment? If you have recently been informed that you might need intracytoplasmic sperm injection to get pregnant, what do you need to know about this assisted fertility procedure?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which is most often simply abbreviated simply to ICSI, is a form of IVF. As the term already suggests, it involves the injection of a single sperm into the center of an egg cell. The main benefit of this procedure, which is sure more complicated than regular IVF, is that only one sperm is needed for an embryo to be created. ICSI is, thefore, most beneficial for couples where the man has some kind of semen complication. This can include a low sperm count, or many sperm that have abnormal shapes or sizes, or sperm that are not very fast swimmers. ICSI eliminates the need of a sperm to fight to get through to the egg, and places it at its very center.
The first time intracytoplasmic sperm injection was used successfully was in 1992. Since then, it has helped many couples achieve pregnancy and become parents. ICSI has been added to the treatment arsenal of many fertility clinics now, and has increased in frequency a lot since its introduction. For the female partner, the IVF procedure is identical with ICSI. The sperm needed can either be collected through an ejaculation or through direct extraction from the male scrotum if this is not possible. Interested in IVF? See: How to find out if your fertility clinic has ever had an embryo mix-up, and IVF master mind wins Nobel Prize.