The power of ICSI
In a traditional IVF cycle, at least 50,000 sperm cells are placed around the woman’s egg in a laboratory dish. Ideally, a sperm would attach to the egg, pushing through the egg membrane into the cytoplasm. However, IVF success is very low if there are fewer than 40,000 sperm available or if sperm cells cannot attach to the egg membrane. This is where ICSI comes in. This procedure involves injecting the man’s sperm directly into the woman’s eggs using a tiny pipette. With this approach, the sperm is guided to where fertilization will occur. This micromanipulation allows for a higher success rate if traditional IVF fails.
Who benefits from ICSI?
The fertility doctor may recommend ICSI for patients with male-factor infertility since ICSI helps with low sperm count and poor motility. If the egg has cytoplasm defects that prevent fertilization, ICSI can help. This procedure is also recommended for women with low or undetectable estrogen levels. In these cases, ICSI may produce a healthy embryo with a greater likelihood of implantation and pregnancy than IVF alone. Furthermore, if a woman is over 35 and has a history of repeated IVF failure, the fertility doctor may recommend ICSI as a last resort.
ICSI success rates
Although ICSI can help couples achieve pregnancy, success rates can vary. Factors such as the man’s sperm count, the woman’s age, and underlying health conditions can also impact overall success. In general, ICSI success rates range from 50-60% for the first IVF cycle and rise to 70-80% for subsequent cycles.
As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks associated with the ICSI procedure. These risks include damage to the eggs and failure to fertilize. Other risks are abnormalities in the development of the resulting embryo and congenital birth defects. Even when IVF with ICSI results in a successful pregnancy, research suggests the child can have an increased risk of Angelman syndrome, autism, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, hypospadias, and other challenges.
Should you consider ICSI?
Before deciding on an ICSI procedure, weigh the benefits and risks carefully. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection offers significantly higher success rates than IVF alone after failed cycles. However, there is also a higher chance of complications if the procedure is successful. Consult a fertility specialist to determine whether ICSI is the best option for growing a family.