Comparing ICSI and IVF
In vitro fertilization is a procedure where the egg is fertilized with the sperm in a laboratory dish. During IVF, thousands of sperm are placed near the egg to increase the chance of fertilization. With ICSI, fertilization occurs by injecting sperm into an egg, increasing the odds of embryo formation. The success rate of each procedure depends on the egg and sperm quality. The chance of getting pregnant with ICSI is similar to traditional IVF success rates. About 50% – 80% of ICSI procedures have led to a successful pregnancy.
When is ICSI helpful?
Male-factor infertility is the main reason to use ICSI to get pregnant. The doctor may recommend ICSI if there is a low sperm count, poor sperm quality, or difficulty ejaculating. Other male-factor reasons include retrograde ejaculation and an obstruction in the male reproductive system. Women who are advanced maternal age (AMA) can also benefit from ICSI to conceive. If traditional IVF is unsuccessful, ICSI may also be recommended as the next step for couples.
Risks and benefits of ICSI
The main advantage of ICSI is that the chances of fertilization are higher than just IVF if there is male-factor infertility. However, some complications can exist with ICSI, including possible damage to the egg during injection and impeding embryo growth in the lab. There is also a possibility that an egg may not fertilize even after the sperm is directly injected. When ICSI is used, some studies suggest the procedure may increase the risk for birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities. However, more research is needed to determine if the ICSI causes the problem, or if the underlying fertility issues are to blame.
Risk of multiples
Injecting the sperm into multiple eggs can be done during ICSI to improve the chance of pregnancy. However, if more than 1 embryo is transferred into the uterus, there is a chance of multiples, including twins and triplets. Multiple pregnancies can lead to complications such as preterm delivery.
Getting pregnant with ICSI
When considering fertility treatment, speak to the fertility specialist about all possible options. Discuss the pros and cons of ICSI to determine if this procedure is best for the specific infertility diagnosis. By injecting the sperm directly into the egg, some couples may be more likely to get pregnant. With a little science, a baby is possible.