Fertility Factbook: Is ICSI Treatment Painful?

May 25, 2022
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Considering Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) but worried about the pain? This guide explains why you have nothing to worry about.

As a process shrouded in a veil of mystery, ICSI isn't an oft-discussed subject, at least not in social circles. So, if you know precious little about it, you're in good company. If you've been contemplating ICSI but have been wary of the process or the pain, it's likely that you've worried yourself silly over nothing. Here's a spotlight on why ICSI is a worthwhile treatment to help you conceive.

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What Is ICSI?

ICSI is an assisted reproductive technology that involves the injection of a single live sperm into an egg. The technique is generally recommended for cases of male factor infertility, or for couples who have had recurrent failed in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles. The technology is used to overcome several fertility issues.

How Is ICSI Performed?

ICSI involves five basic steps, outlined below.

Step 1. Sperm Collection

First, a semen sample is retrieved from the male partner. This semen may be organically collected or acquired via a surgical testicular procedure.

Step 2. Egg Collection

Once a semen sample has been collected, a selection of mature eggs is surgically extracted from the female partner.

Must Read: About ICSI

Step 3. Sperm Injection

Next, a single sperm cell is injected into a healthy egg using a hollow needle.

Step 4. Observation

Once the egg is fertilised, it becomes an embryo and is cultured in a laboratory for approximately four to five days.  

Step 5. Implantation

Once an embryo is about four or five days old, it is transferred to the uterus. A few days later, it embeds itself into the uterine lining, a process known as implantation.


Is ICSI Painful?

ICSI treatment is ideal for men with a low sperm count, or poor sperm motility or morphology. The process hinges on adequate sperm collection, which may be done organically or with surgical intervention. Usually, sperm is collected via normal ejaculation. For men who have undergone a prior vasectomy, a microsurgical vasectomy reversal may first be required for restoring fertility.

And then, there's needle aspiration

Needle aspiration or microsurgical sperm retrieval may be recommended when a microsurgical vasectomy reversal does not reap the required results in fertility restoration. The procedure allows a fertility specialist to obtain sperm from the testicles using a fine needle. Although needle aspiration is a straightforward procedure performed under anaesthesia, it does present a slight risk of pain and swelling. In most cases, it results in minimal discomfort.


So, to answer the titular question, no, ICSI treatment isn't always painful. If you've found yourself in a predicament with regard to ICSI, it's time you found your way out. By trumping your fears and shunning those long-held perceptions, you might find the treatment your biggest blessing yet.