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Treating Sperm problems using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

What is ICSI?

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection or microinjection is the specialized form of assisted reproductive technology used to treat sperm-related infertility. The technique is performed parallel with IVF treatment and involves injecting single sperm directly into a mature egg. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus to initiate pregnancy.

ICSI is one of the most cost-effective and revolutionary technologies that offer new hope to couples who cannot conceive.

Who needs ICSI?

As mentioned earlier, ICSI is recommended explicitly to couples where the male partners have the following infertility problems:

  • Low sperm count (less than 20,000,000 sperm per milliliter)
  • Poor sperm morphology
  • Impaired sperm motility

In addition, the procedure is helpful in cases such as:

  • Difficulty in binding and penetration of the sperm into the egg
  • Anti-sperm antibodies (protective proteins that attach to and destroy sperm)
  •  Failed previous IVF or IUI treatment
  • Blocked reproductive tract

 

Who needs ICSI?

As ICSI is performed as part of an IVF procedure, the process is described in detail under the IVF treatment section. However, it involves the following steps:

  • Ovulation and egg retrieval – The female partner is given medications to stimulate her ovulation cycle to release mature eggs. The eggs are then retrieved as an outpatient procedure under sedation by ultrasound guidance. After retrieval, the eggs are sent to ART laboratories for processing.
  • Sperm collection – You will be asked to provide a fresh semen sample by masturbation. However, surgical sperm collection may be performed if this is not possible.
  • Egg and sperm examination – After egg retrieval and sperm collection, the health of both the egg and the sperm are microscopically examined to ensure smooth and successful ICSI treatment.
  • Sperm injection and transfer – A very fine hollow glass needle is used to transfer a single sperm into the egg. The procedure is carried out under a very powerful microscope.
  • Fertilization and Embryo transfer – Once fertilization is confirmed, one or more embryos are placed into the uterus via a soft tube inserted through the cervix.
  • Fertilization and Embryo transfer – Once fertilization is confirmed, one or more embryos are placed into the uterus via a soft tube inserted through the cervix. 

After that, the pregnancy proceeds normally. The other embryos are frozen for later use.

Remember that ICSI may not always guarantee successful fertilization as the normal cellular fertilization events still need to occur after the sperm is placed inside the egg.

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