Ever heard the term ICSI from your fertility doctor and wondered what it meant, if you needed it, and how it works? The acronym ICSI is short for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. ICSI, an assisted reproductive technology, is a procedure that increases the likelihood of fertilization when there is low sperm count, poor sperm motility or when sperms are deformed. ICSI originated in the early 1990’s and is now a standard of care treatment. ICSI can be a part of IVF treatment cycles for patients with a history of poor fertilization rates or unexplained infertility.

When to Use ICSI?

ICSI may be recommended when a dealing with male factor infertility such as:

Low sperm count
Slow sperm motility or movement
Abnormally shaped sperm
Poor sperm quality
Inability of sperm to penetrate an egg
ICSI may also be utilized when dealing with a history low fertilization rates from previous IVF cycles or if few eggs were retrieved.

Although ICSI can be used at times for fresh oocytes (eggs) fertilization, it is required for frozen oocytes (eggs) fertilization. When eggs are frozen, thawed and subjected to the extreme freezing temperatures, they will have a hardened zona which will not permit successful fertilization. Without ICSI, the fertilization rates of these frozen oocytes will be very low.

How Does ICSI Work?

When ICSI is completed during an IVF cycle, after sperm is collected and egg are obtained, the laboratory embryologist carefully selects only the very best sperm for injecting into an egg to achieve fertilization. ICSI is performed with a special microscope and a micromanipulator. This equipment allows the embryologist to isolate, pick up and handle a single perfect sperm, which is then injected directly into one mature egg. This provides the best chance for successful fertilization. Once fertilized, the embryos are grown for 3 to 5 days in the laboratory before being transferred into the uterus.

What are Success Rates and Risks of ICSI?

With no detrimental effects on pregnancy rates, U.S. studies have shown that IVF with ICSI has success rates very similar to those of IVF cases in which couples have normal sperm quality. Although ICSI promotes higher successes, it is not a guarantee of fertilization or pregnancy. Other factors, including the age of the eggs, also come into play.

Normal pregnancies without reproductive technology have a 1.5-3 percent risk of birth defects. Although ICSI slightly increased the risk, long-term studies have shown that birth defects from ICSI are very slim and are extremely rare.

Is ICSI Right for Me and What Is the Cost?

If you feel ICSI may be helpful, talk with your fertility provider and do research to weigh the benefits.

The ICSI procedure itself carries a cost of approximately $1,500, in addition to your IVF treatment cycle. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) estimated average pricing of an U.S. IVF cycle is $12,400, not including medications or additional procedures.

Don’t have a doctor yet? Contact Midwest Fertility Center at 630-810-0212 to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Madanes and explore all your fertility options. Our expert financial team will explain all costs involved once your personalized treatment plan is created. Once verified, insurance and other financing options can be explored.