ICSI fertility treatment explained
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, also known as ICSI, is a fertility treatment commonly combined with IVF and is the most successful form of fertility treatment for men.
Nearly half of all IVF treatments use ICSI to assist with conception. ICSI requires only one healthy sperm cell, which is injected directly into the egg. The embryo, or fertilised egg, is then placed back into the womb to grow and develop.
The main use of ICSI is for significant male infertility problems. About 25% of infertility problems are caused by sperm defects and around 40% of infertility cases have sperm defects as a contributing factor.
If you have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and are concerned about male infertility problems ICSI may be an option to explore. Before getting treatment, check your suitability for ICSI and IVF with a specialist who can conduct a detailed assessment of your condition.
Who is ICSI for?
The use of ICSI means that sperm doesn’t have to travel to the egg, as it would do through natural conception. The egg is fertilised outside of the body and placed back into the womb. Couples experiencing fertility problems because the man’s sperm can’t get to the egg, or the sperm reaches the egg but can’t fertilise it, could be potential candidates for ICSI treatment.
ICSI may be recommended for the following conditions:
- Low sperm count
- Large number of abnormally shaped or slow sperm
- Sperm doesn’t appear in the samples provided by the man but can be collected from the testicles
- Problems ejaculating or getting an erection
Keep in mind, ICSI can improve the chances of fertilisation compared to IVF, but there is no guarantee that fertilisation will occur as a result of this treatment.
What is involved in ICSI treatment?
Initially, fertility drug treatment will be carried out to stimulate the ovaries to produce many mature eggs to fertilise. Under your doctor’s supervision, this stage of the treatment will be monitored and when the eggs are ready to be collected you and your partner will be prepared for your own procedures.
A sperm sample will need to be provided on the same day the eggs are extracted. If there is no sperm in the sample, or ejaculation isn’t possible, the doctor will use a needle to collect sperm from the epididymis or testicle.
The process of extracting sperm with a needle is carried out under local anaesthetic so shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
If this method fails to collect enough sperm the surgeon can try another technique called testicular sperm extraction (TESE). This is a biopsy of testicular tissue and can sometimes be used to collect sperm which may be attached.
This second procedure will need to be carried out under general anaesthetic.
The collected sperm is usually frozen before the treatment cycle begins, for practical reasons.
Egg collection is carried out with the use of a fine, hollow needle and the procedure is usually done while you’re conscious but sedated. Additional medication may be used to line the womb and prepare for the egg transfer.
In the laboratory individual eggs are injected with sperm. By the following day the injected eggs would have become embryos, ready to be placed back in the womb by your doctor. The fertilised eggs can stay in the lab for up to six days before being transferred, but can be as short a two.
Risks of IVF & ICSI treatment
ICSI and IVF unfortunately don’t guarantee results and the experience of going through the process can be difficult and emotionally demanding.
There are some risk and side effect associate with ICSI. These include:
- Drugs used during the procedure can cause headaches and hot flushes
- It’s common to have multiple births, such as twins or more
- The embryo may implant in the fallopian tube
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – the development of too many eggs in the ovaries
Things to consider before fertility treatment
Choosing to have ICSI treatment requires a lot of careful thought and consideration. You need to really understand the reasons for choosing the fertility treatment you want and set realistic expectations of the outcome.
Once your mind is made up, are you confident that you are fully prepared for the treatment?
Here are some things you should think about:
- Is the procedure affordable?
- How many attempts do you have?
- What is the chance of success?
- What is the best treatment option for my condition?
Cost of Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment
The cost of ICSI treatment can vary from patient to patient. There are many reasons for this including, but not limited to, the cause of the infertility problem, where the procedure is carried out and whether additional treatment is needed to improve the likelihood of fertilisation.
The cost of ICSI treatment in the UK can range from £1,000 to £4,500. However, the average median cost of ICSI is around £1,250.
To fine the best price for you, reach out to fertility clinics for a quote and find out what is included in the price to be able to make the best comparison.
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About Fertility Treatment
Fertility treatments are available to couples that have been trying to get pregnant for a substantial period of time, but haven’t succeeded. There are many types of fertility treatments available to those experiencing fertility problems. The treatment available to you will depend on the cause of the problem and what is available at the clinic providing the treatment.
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