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21 Sep 2020

What is ICSI in the IVF Process?

Vicken Sahakian

Vicken Sahakian

M.D.

Many couples can’t wait to start a family. 


Unfortunately, some patients find that pregnancy does not happen as easily or quickly as they had imagined. Couples who have struggled for a year or more to become pregnant may be in need of fertility treatment. 

IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is an assisted reproductive treatment that greatly improves a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. While IVF alone has helped many patients achieve a successful pregnancy, that success rate can be increased even further when IVF is combined with ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. 

IVF with ICSI addresses multiple fertility issues for our Los Angeles, CA patients, and maximizes their odds of experiencing the joys of a successful pregnancy.

An Overview of IVF with ICSI

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection with IVF can deliver high pregnancy success rates. 

IVF is a multi-step fertility treatment that increases the chances of conception, especially in patients with fertility problems. With IVF, your fertility specialists can oversee each step of the conception process. IVF involves ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization, and, finally, the implantation of embryos.

Together, IVF and ICSI offer intended parents real hope for achieving their dream of parenthood.

What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)? 

At its core, ICSI involves injecting a single sperm directly into a woman’s egg as part of in vitro fertilization to increase a patient’s chances of conception. 

IVF with ICSI is frequently recommended for couples who are dealing with significant male infertility, including abnormally shaped sperm, low sperm count or low sperm motility. 

ICSI is especially beneficial when a male’s overall sperm count is low, or when the number of viable sperm is insufficient because clinics can identify the single strongest sperm and optimize the patient’s fertility process to best reach a successful pregnancy.

About 75-80% of eggs injected with sperm via the ICSI technique will successfully fertilize. After fertilization has occurred, your doctors will discuss the viability of the embryos so you can choose which embryo (or embryos) will be implanted during the final stage of IVF treatment. 

Who should use ICSI with IVF? 

If you know sperm count or motility is something you (or your partner) struggles with and you’re trying to start a family, a discussion with your doctors can determine if you meet the criteria for ICSI. 

You’re a good candidate for ICSI if you have experienced:  

  • Unsuccessful IVF treatments 
  • Failed Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
  • Diagnoses with sperm abnormalities
  • Blockages that prevent sperm from flowing properly
  • Chosen sperm donation or egg donation for fertilization

Using IVF with ICSI

ICSI can be combined with IVF to maximize the chances of a successful IVF cycle. Thanks to this breakthrough in fertility technology, males who suffer from infertility can have a higher chance of fatherhood. This procedure, performed along with IVF, can help increase your chances for a successful conception. 

The procedure involves five simple steps: 

  1. Ovarian Stimulation: Just as with a traditional IVF treatment, the woman will receive fertility medication to stimulate the release of multiple eggs. 
  2. Egg retrieval: Once the eggs are ready, they’re removed from the ovaries via the medical procedure. 
  3. Sperm retrieval: Sperm is retrieved through normal donation for men with low sperm count and motility. For more severe cases, extraction can take place with a minor surgical procedure. 
  4. Fertilization and observation: Once the egg and sperm have been retrieved, the doctor injects the most viable sperm to increase the chance of fertilization.
    Using a special ICSI needle, this sperm will pass through the outer shell of the egg and the egg membrane so it can be implanted directly into the cytoplasm of the egg. The fertilized egg is monitored for growth and typically confirmed in three to six days. 
  5. Embryo transfer: If normal growth is confirmed, one or two of the embryos are implanted into the woman’s uterus through your procedure of choice (natural IVF, mini IVF, etc)

    Next steps for IVF and ICSI treatments

    ICSI has an extremely high success rate. ICSI can allow couples that may not otherwise be able to conceive overcome many of the barriers to fertilization and successfully become pregnant. This procedure can help couples where the female’s eggs are difficult for sperm to penetrate.

    For men who have abnormally low sperm count or sperm motility issues, this procedure can also enable conception that would otherwise be impossible.

    At Pacific Fertility Center of Los Angeles, we are committed to helping patients achieve a successful pregnancy and live birth. If you have had difficulty conceiving and are interested in learning more about our fertility services, contact us at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!

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