Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive even after having carefully timed and unprotected sex for over a year. It is one of the major challenges that many couples face. But with technological advancement and development of assisted reproductive technology (ART), many infertile couples are able to successfully conceive and get pregnant. ART includes techniques like in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI) etc.
What is ICSI?
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a part of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. It involves the direct injection of a single sperm cell into the cytoplasm of an egg. It is different from the traditional IVF in the sense that in traditional IVF, the eggs are collected in the lab and are surrounded by sperm cells for fertilization to occur naturally. While in ICSI, a single sperm cell is manually injected into the cytoplasm of an egg for fertilization.
Most of the steps of ICSI are similar to that of IVF. ICSI involves the stimulation of ovaries and collection of one or multiple oocytes (eggs). On the same day, the semen sample is collected and if there is no sperm present in the semen (azoospermia), then the sperm may be extracted manually using various sperm retrieval techniques.
Once the eggs and sperm are collected, a specialized pipette is used to hold an egg and a hollow and a sharp needle is used to immobilize and pick up a single sperm. The needle is then carefully inserted through the shell of the egg into the cytoplasm and the sperm cell is injected. The eggs are checked on the following day for signs of fertilization.
The rest of the procedure is again similar to IVF and includes transferring the fertilized embryo back into the uterus for implantation. The embryo transfer may be further backed up by assisted hatching to increase the chances of implantation.
Who should opt for it?
Infertility is caused by either male infertility, or female infertility, or both (in many cases, it even becomes difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of infertility). Depending on the cause of infertility, certain treatment methods are prescribed and preferred. ICSI is most suitable in the following cases of infertility:
- Sperm count is very low
- A high percentage of slow sperm
- A high percentage of abnormally shaped sperm
- When the sperm is retrieved from epididymis or testes using retrieval methods like MESA/PESA. This is usually done in cases of obstructive or nonobstructive azoospermia
- High level of antibodies in the semen
- Difficulty in erection or ejaculation due to various factors like illnesses or injuries etc.
- When low-quality frozen sperm is used for fertilization
- When embryo screening is needed to prevent genetic abnormalities
- Past history of conventional IVF failure
One important thing to note is that ICSI is the most preferable form of treatment when the cause of infertility is male infertility. When semen parameters are unfavourable or the sperm quality is low, ICSI may be done to increase the chances of successful pregnancy.
Treatment procedures like ICSI require skills and precision of the highest order which we, at Cloudnine, have perfected. Our team of specialists are extremely qualified and have performed various ART procedures like IVF, ICSI etc. over the years. Our state-of-the-art facilities ensure that you get the best possible treatment with the utmost comfort and care.