ICSI IVF: Process, Success Rate & Benefits

by | Apr 6, 2023 | IVF

Introduction:

Embarking on the journey to parenthood can be both an exciting and challenging experience. For some, it might be a smooth sail, while others may face obstacles along the way. One such hurdle is fertility issues, but fortunately, modern medical advances have made it possible to overcome these challenges. One of the most innovative and effective fertility treatments available today is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In this article, we’ll dive into the world of ICSI, exploring what it is, why it’s needed, who it’s recommended for, and when it’s performed.

 

What is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)?

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to treat male infertility. It involves the injection of a single sperm directly into an egg using a fine glass needle under a microscope.

ICSI is typically used in cases where the male partner has a low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology. It can also be used in cases where the male partner has had a vasectomy, or when there is an obstruction in the male reproductive tract preventing the sperm from reaching the egg.

ICSI is usually performed as part of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, where the woman undergoes hormone treatments to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are then retrieved and fertilized using ICSI, and the resulting embryos are cultured in a laboratory for several days before being transferred back into the woman’s uterus. But what exactly is ICSI, and how does it work?

A Closer Look at the ICSI Procedure:

In simple terms, ICSI is a procedure where a single sperm is directly injected into an egg, thus facilitating fertilization. This technique bypasses several obstacles that sperm might face on their journey to fertilize an egg, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Step by Step: The ICSI Journey

  1. Egg retrieval: The woman undergoes hormone therapy to stimulate egg production, followed by a minor surgical procedure to collect the eggs.
  2. Sperm collection: Sperm is collected from the male partner, either through ejaculation or a surgical procedure, depending on the circumstances.
  3. Sperm preparation: The sperm sample is processed, and individual sperm cells are selected based on their quality and viability.
  4. Fertilization: Using a specialized micropipette, an embryologist injects a single sperm cell directly into the cytoplasm of each egg.
  5. Embryo development: The fertilized eggs are incubated, and their development is closely monitored.
  6. Embryo transfer: One or more embryos are carefully placed in the woman’s uterus to achieve a successful pregnancy.

 

Why is ICSI-IVF Needed?

Now that we know what ICSI is, let’s explore the reasons behind its development and why it’s needed in certain situations.

Overcoming Fertility Barriers

While IVF has been a game-changer in fertility treatments, it’s not always sufficient in addressing certain fertility issues. In some cases, sperm can’t penetrate the egg’s outer layer or reach it at all. This is where ICSI comes into play – by injecting the sperm directly into the egg, these barriers are effectively bypassed.

The Battle Against Male Factor Infertility

ICSI has proven to be particularly beneficial for couples dealing with male factor infertility, which can be caused by a variety of issues such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology. By selecting the best sperm and injecting it directly into the egg, ICSI significantly increases the chances of successful fertilization.

Who is ICSI-IVF Recommended For?

Wondering if ICSI-IVF might be the right solution for you? Here are some scenarios where ICSI could be recommended:

  • Couples with male factor infertility, such as low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormal morphology
  • Cases where previous IVF attempts have resulted in low or no fertilization
  • Couples using frozen sperm samples, which may have reduced fertility potential
  • When pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) is needed, as ICSI can help ensure the creation of viable embryos for testing

 

When is ICSI-IVF Done?

Timing is Everything: Deciding When to Opt for ICSI-IVF

Deciding when to opt for ICSI-IVF is a highly individualized decision, as it depends on various factors, including the couple’s medical history, age, and the specific cause of infertility. Generally, ICSI-IVF may be recommended in the following situations:

  1. After unsuccessful IVF attempts: If conventional IVF cycles have not resulted in a successful pregnancy, your fertility specialist may recommend trying ICSI to improve the chances of fertilization.
  2. Upon diagnosis of male factor infertility: If diagnostic tests reveal significant sperm-related issues, ICSI may be advised from the outset to maximize the likelihood of successful fertilization.
  3. In conjunction with pre-implantation genetic testing: If PGT is required due to a known genetic condition or a history of recurrent miscarriages, ICSI may be performed to ensure the development of viable embryos for testing.

 

Why Would I Need ICSI-IVF?

There are several reasons why couples might need to consider ICSI-IVF as a fertility treatment option:

  1. Male factor infertility: ICSI-IVF is particularly helpful when the cause of infertility is related to sperm quality or quantity, such as low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology.
  2. Unsuccessful conventional IVF: For couples who have undergone traditional IVF cycles without success, ICSI-IVF may be recommended to improve the chances of fertilization.
  3. Frozen sperm samples: In cases where frozen sperm samples are used, ICSI can help increase the likelihood of successful fertilization, as freezing can sometimes reduce sperm quality.
  4. Pre-implantation genetic testing: If couples require pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) for specific genetic conditions or a history of recurrent miscarriages, ICSI may be utilized to ensure the creation of viable embryos for testing.

 

How Does ICSI-IVF Work?

ICSI-IVF is a specialized form of IVF that involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg, bypassing some of the common barriers that can prevent fertilization. Let’s break down the process step by step:

ICSI-IVF Step-by-Step:

  1. Ovarian stimulation: The woman is given hormonal medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which are then closely monitored through ultrasound and blood tests.
  2. Egg retrieval: A minor surgical procedure is performed to collect the mature eggs from the woman’s ovaries.
  3. Sperm collection: Sperm is obtained from the male partner, either through ejaculation or, in some cases, a surgical procedure.
  4. Fertilization: An embryologist selects a single, healthy sperm and injects it directly into the cytoplasm of each egg using a microscopic needle.
  5. Embryo culture: Fertilized eggs are incubated and monitored for several days as they develop into embryos.
  6. Embryo transfer: One or more embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus, and any remaining viable embryos can be frozen for future use.

 

What Happens Before ICSI-IVF?

Preparing for ICSI-IVF involves several steps and consultations with your healthcare team. Here’s what to expect:

Preparing for the Journey: Pre-ICSI-IVF Steps

  1. Fertility evaluation: Both partners will undergo a thorough fertility evaluation to determine the cause of infertility and assess their overall health.
  2. Treatment planning: Based on the results of the evaluation, the fertility specialist will recommend a personalized treatment plan, which may include ICSI-IVF.
  3. Counseling: Couples may be offered counseling to help them understand the process, manage their expectations, and cope with the emotional aspects of fertility treatment.
  4. Consent: Before starting the ICSI-IVF process, couples will be asked to sign informed consent forms to ensure they fully understand the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of the procedure.

 

What Happens During ICSI-IVF?

The ICSI-IVF process involves several stages, from ovarian stimulation to embryo transfer. Here’s a closer look at what happens in ICSI IVF during each stage:

Navigating the ICSI-IVF Process: Key Stages

  1. Ovarian stimulation: The woman receives hormonal injections to stimulate the production of multiple mature eggs. The progress is monitored through ultrasound and blood tests.
  2. Egg retrieval: Once the eggs are ready, the woman undergoes a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, during which a thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall to collect the eggs.
  3. Sperm collection: The male partner provides a sperm sample, typically through ejaculation. In cases where this is not possible, surgical sperm retrieval methods may be employed.
  4. ICSI procedure: The embryologist selects a healthy sperm and injects it directly into an egg using a microscopic needle. This process is repeated for each collected egg.
  5. Embryo development: The injected eggs are incubated in a specialized laboratory, where their development is closely monitored. The embryos are typically allowed to grow for three to five days.
  6. Embryo transfer: A selected embryo (or embryos) is transferred into the woman’s uterus using a catheter inserted through the cervix.

What Happens After ICSI-IVF?

Once the ICSI-IVF procedure is completed, there are a few crucial steps and milestones to be aware of:

The Two-Week Wait and Beyond

  1. The two-week wait: After the embryo transfer, couples must wait approximately two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. This period can be emotionally taxing, but it’s important to stay positive and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
  2. Pregnancy test: If the test is positive, your fertility specialist will schedule a follow-up appointment to confirm the pregnancy via ultrasound and blood tests.
  3. Ongoing prenatal care: Should the pregnancy be confirmed, you’ll transition to regular prenatal care with your obstetrician or another healthcare provider.

 

Risks Associated with ICSI-IVF

As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and potential complications associated with ICSI-IVF:

  1. Multiple pregnancies: ICSI-IVF can increase the chances of multiple pregnancies, which can pose higher risks to both the mother and the babies.
  2. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): The fertility medications used during the procedure can, in rare cases, lead to OHSS, causing swollen and painful ovaries.
  3. Ectopic pregnancy: Though rare, there is a slightly increased risk of ectopic pregnancy in IVF cycles, where the embryo implants outside the uterus.
  4. Birth defects: While the overall risk of birth defects remains low, some studies have suggested a slightly higher risk in ICSI-IVF-conceived children compared to those conceived naturally.

Also read: ICSI Treatment

ICSI-IVF Success Rates by Age in India:

Success rates for ICSI-IVF vary based on several factors, including age, the cause of infertility, and the quality of the fertility clinic. Here’s a general overview of ICSI-IVF success rates by age in India:

  1. Under 35 years: Approximately 40-50% success rate per cycle
  2. 35-39 years: Approximately 30-40% success rate per cycle
  3. 40-42 years: Approximately 15-20% success rate per cycle
  4. Over 42 years: Less than 10% success rate per cycle

It’s important to remember that these figures are only estimates, and individual success rates may vary. Consult with your fertility specialist for a more accurate assessment of your chances of success.

 

What are the ICSI-IVF Benefits?

Despite the challenges and risks, ICSI-IVF offers several benefits for couples struggling with infertility:

  1. Improved fertilization rates: ICSI-IVF can significantly increase the chances of fertilization compared to conventional IVF, particularly for couples facing male factor infertility.
  2. Higher chances of pregnancy: The combination of ICSI and IVF has been shown to improve overall pregnancy rates, offering hope to couples who have experienced unsuccessful IVF cycles.
  3. Pre-implantation genetic testing: ICSI-IVF enables couples to undergo pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) to screen embryos for specific genetic conditions or chromosomal abnormalities, potentially reducing the risk of miscarriage or the birth of a child with a genetic disorder.

 

How Much Does ICSI-IVF Cost in India?

The cost of ICSI-IVF can be a major concern for many couples, as it can be a significant financial investment. In India, the cost of ICSI-IVF varies based on several factors, including the clinic’s location, the expertise of the medical team, and the specific treatment requirements.

Here’s a general overview of ICSI-IVF costs in India:

  1. Basic ICSI-IVF treatment: The cost of a single ICSI-IVF cycle typically ranges from ₹1,50,000 to ₹2,50,000.
  2. Additional costs: Depending on your specific situation, you may incur extra costs for medications, advanced lab tests, and any additional procedures (e.g., surgical sperm retrieval, embryo freezing, or pre-implantation genetic testing).
  3. Total estimated cost: Factoring in these variables, the total cost of ICSI-IVF in India can range from ₹2,00,000 to ₹5,00,000 per cycle.

Keep in mind that these figures are estimates, and the actual cost of treatment may vary. It’s essential to discuss costs with your fertility clinic and explore any available financial assistance or payment plans.

Also Read: Different Types of IVF Treatments

Can ICSI-IVF Affect a Baby’s Development?

One common concern among couples considering ICSI-IVF is the potential impact on their baby’s development. While the overall risk of developmental issues remains low, it’s important to be aware of the possible risks associated with ICSI-IVF:

  1. Birth defects: Some studies have suggested a slightly higher risk of birth defects in ICSI-IVF-conceived children compared to those conceived naturally. However, the absolute risk remains small, and most babies born through ICSI-IVF are healthy.
  2. Genetic disorders: There is a slightly increased risk of specific genetic disorders, such as imprinting disorders, in children conceived via ICSI-IVF. However, pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) can help screen embryos for genetic conditions, reducing this risk.

Despite these potential risks, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of ICSI-IVF-conceived babies are born healthy and develop normally. Consult with your fertility specialist to discuss any concerns and learn about available options to minimize these risks.

Also Read: 4 Fertility Treatments Other Than IVF You Can Consider

What Can You Expect After IVF Treatment?

Navigating the post-IVF treatment phase can be an emotional rollercoaster. Here’s what you can expect following your IVF treatment:

The Emotional Journey

  1. The two-week wait: After the embryo transfer, couples must wait approximately two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. This period can be emotionally taxing, but it’s important to stay positive and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
  2. Pregnancy test results: The results of the pregnancy test can trigger a wide range of emotions. Whether you receive a positive or negative result, it’s essential to allow yourself time to process your emotions and lean on your support network.

Physical Recovery

  1. Post-procedure discomfort: You may experience some physical discomfort following the egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures. Your healthcare provider can recommend pain-relief medications and self-care strategies to help alleviate these symptoms.
  2. Return to normal activities: Most women can return to their normal activities within a few days after the IVF procedures. However, it’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s guidelines on when to resume specific activities, such as exercise or sexual intercourse.

Planning Your Next Steps:

  • Follow-up appointments: Whether the pregnancy test is positive or negative, you’ll need to attend follow-up appointments with your fertility specialist to discuss the outcome and plan your next steps.
  • Considering another cycle: If the first ICSI-IVF cycle is unsuccessful, you may decide to try another cycle. Discuss your options and the recommended timeframe for beginning a new cycle with your fertility specialist.
  • Exploring alternative paths: If you’re unable to conceive through ICSI-IVF or decide to discontinue treatment, you might consider other paths to parenthood, such as adoption or surrogacy. Your fertility specialist can help guide you through these options.

 

Conclusion

Embarking on an ICSI-IVF journey is a significant decision that involves emotional, physical, and financial considerations. Understanding the costs, potential impacts on your baby’s development, and what to expect after treatment can help you make informed choices and navigate the process with confidence. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey—lean on your support network and healthcare providers to help guide you through the ups and downs of ICSI-IVF.

 

F.A.Q

Q: Is ICSI more successful than IVF?

A: In general, ICSI is considered to be slightly more successful than IVF. This is because ICSI directly injects a single sperm into an egg, which can improve the fertilization rate, especially in cases of male infertility.

Q: How is ICSI different from IVF?

A: IVF involves fertilizing an egg with sperm outside of the body in a laboratory dish, while ICSI involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg with a needle. ICSI is typically used in cases of male infertility or when previous IVF attempts have been unsuccessful.

Q: How successful is IVF with ICSI?

A: The success rate of IVF with ICSI varies depending on several factors, including the age and health of the woman, the quality of the sperm and eggs, and the expertise of the fertility clinic. However, on average, the success rate of IVF with ICSI is around 40-50%.

Q: What is ICSI in IVF?

A: ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is a technique used during IVF that involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg with a needle. This can improve the chances of fertilization, particularly in cases of male infertility.

Q: What is the disadvantage of ICSI?

A: One of the disadvantages of ICSI is that it can increase the risk of certain genetic and developmental disorders in offspring, particularly if the male partner has a genetic condition that could be passed on to children.

Q: Why is ICSI risky?

A: ICSI can be considered risky because it involves manipulating the genetic material of the sperm and egg in a laboratory setting, which can potentially introduce errors or abnormalities into the resulting embryo. Additionally, there is a risk of infection or damage to the eggs or embryos during the ICSI procedure.

Q: Is ICSI cheaper than IVF?

A: Generally, ICSI is more expensive than standard IVF, as it requires additional laboratory procedures and specialized equipment.

Q: Is ICSI procedure painful?

A: The ICSI procedure itself is not typically painful, as it is performed under anesthesia or local numbing medication. However, some women may experience cramping or discomfort afterwards, similar to the side effects of a standard IVF procedure.

Q: How many sperm needed for ICSI?

A: In ICSI, only one sperm is needed per egg. The embryologist selects the healthiest sperm and directly injects it into the egg with a micro-needle.

Q: How many eggs do you need for ICSI?

A: The number of eggs needed for ICSI varies depending on the woman’s age, fertility diagnosis, and treatment goals. However, on average, 8-15 eggs are retrieved and fertilized with ICSI during an IVF cycle.

Q: What is the cost of ICSI procedure?

A: The cost of ICSI procedure varies depending on the fertility clinic and location, but it is generally more expensive than standard IVF. On average, ICSI can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per cycle in addition to the cost of IVF.

Q: Does ICSI make you have a boy or girl?

A: ICSI does not influence the sex of the baby. The sex of the baby is determined by the genetic material of the sperm and egg.

Q: Is ICSI safe for the baby?

A: ICSI is generally considered safe for the baby. However, there may be a slightly higher risk of certain genetic and developmental disorders, particularly if the male partner has a genetic condition that has chance to be passed on to children.

Q: Does ICSI increase chance of twins?

A: The chances of having twins with ICSI are slightly higher than with standard IVF. However, the chance of having twins can be managed through careful selection and transfer of embryos.

Q: Can I choose gender in IVF?

A: Gender selection is a controversial topic and is not legal in all countries. In some countries, gender selection for non-medical reasons is banned, while in others it is allowed in certain circumstances, such as for medical reasons or family balancing.

Q: Why ICSI is better than IVF?

A: ICSI is not necessarily “better” than IVF. It is simply a specialized technique that can improve the chances of fertilization in cases of male infertility or when previous IVF attempts have been unsuccessful.

Q: How likely is ICSI to work first time?

A: The success rate of ICSI on the first attempt varies depending on several factors, including the age and health of the woman, the quality of the sperm and eggs, and the expertise of the fertility clinic. On average, the success rate of ICSI on the first attempt is around 40-50%.

Q: Are ICSI babies healthy?

A: Yes, ICSI babies are generally healthy and do not have any more health problems than babies conceived naturally or through standard IVF.

Q: Does ICSI increase the chance of girls?

A: There is no evidence to suggest that ICSI increases the chance of having a girl or boy. The sex of the baby is determined by the genetic material of the sperm and egg, and is not influenced by the ICSI technique.

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    Dr Mona Dahiya

    Dr Mona Dahiya

    IVF Specialist & Consultant

    Dr Mona Dahiya has performed over 5,000+ IVF cycles and is considered a global expert in IVF, ICSI, IUI and male fertility treatment. She is an eminent writer on Infertility Treatment and has over 100 Publications in both International and National Journals. Dr Mona Dahiya has immensely contributed to the field of infertility through her Research and articles.

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