In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) are both revolutionary assisted reproductive therapies that have allowed more infertile couples than ever before to experience the joy of having their own biological children.


In this article we take a look at both the IVF procedure and the ICSI procedure; describe how they work together to realise more dreams of having a baby; discover if you will require just IVF or if IVF with ICSI; and find out where to get IVF with ICSI treatment.

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization – or IVF as it is often called – refers to a medical process that has helped millions of couples around the world to experience the joy of having their own babies.

It is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that is used to treat fertility or genetic problems to help couples to conceive a child. Parents of babies born following in vitro fertilization often describe their babies as “miracles” and “dreams come true”.

Practiced for more than three decades across the world, IVF is a safe and trusted medical treatment, and its success rate is impressive.

Very simply stated, during in vitro fertilization the female partner’s eggs (ovum) are collected and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is then implanted into the uterus.

While the process sounds relatively simple, IVF is not a single medical procedure or event, but a series of procedures completed over several weeks. From the first day of the cycle to the pregnancy test completed 14 days after the egg retrieval, the entire IVF process spans around 28 days.

Treatment usually commences on the first two to three days of the female partner’s cycle. The first step is taking medications to stimulate the growth of the eggs, and to suppress ovulation until egg collection. Patients are carefully monitored using blood tests and ultrasound scans, usually starting on the eighth day of the cycle.

The next step in the process is the egg collection. It begins with an HCG injection 36 hours prior – this is usually on the evening of day 12. The egg collection procedure takes about two hours and is performed under sedation. After the egg collection, a progesterone hormone is given to prepare the lining of the uterus (womb) prior to embryo transfer.

On the same day as the egg collection, using a sperm sample from the male partner or donated sperm, and the eggs are fertilized in the lab. This is where ICSI comes in, as explained below.

The resulting embryos are grown in the laboratory for three to five days.

The third step is the transfer of the embryo into the uterine cavity. An ultrasound scan is performed to ensure the embryos are transferred into the correct place. Depending on your specific circumstances, certain medications may be required. An embryo can take between six and seven days to attach or implant itself to the uterine wall.

After 14 days, a blood test will be performed to check for pregnancy.

What is ICSI?

ICSI stands for “Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection” and it is a revolutionary medical process that makes it possible for nearly every man to have his own biological child, even in the case of severe sperm problems. Practised safely around the world, ICSI has helped thousands of couples to have their own biological offspring.

ICSI is a medical procedure used in specific circumstances when the fertilization of the eggs takes place in the lab during IVF treatment, and it is very effective.

How do IVF and ICSI fit together?

As explained above, one of the procedures during conventional IVF treatment is the fertilization of the eggs. Traditionally this is achieved in an advanced laboratory by mixing the eggs ‘in vitro’ (in glass) with tens of thousands of washed sperm, where they are able to reach and fertilise the eggs.

ICSI replaces this procedure.

Instead of the eggs and sperm being mixed and left to fertilise as with traditional IVF treatment, during ICSI, one sperm is injected into the egg using a micromanipulation microscope.

The embryologist will choose a single sperm cell – the best and strongest available – and inject it directly into the egg. This circumvents any possible problems with the sperm penetrating the egg.

At Cape Fertility, our laboratory is equipped with the newest high-magnification ICSI microscope. This helps the embryologist in selecting the best spermatozoa. High-magnification ICSI can also improve clinical outcomes in couples with previous repeated conventional ICSI failures.

IVF vs IVF with ICSI

While IVF treatment was originally created for women with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, it is a safe and trusted standard treatment for many causes of infertility today.

Some of the fertility challenges IVF is normally indicated for include severe endometriosis, advanced maternal age, decreased ovarian function, low ovarian reserve, severe male infertility including impaired sperm function or production, and unexplained infertility.

So, when you would have IVF with ICSI instead of traditional IVF? ICSI is mainly performed where a low sperm count or poor sperm morphology (shape of the sperm) significantly impacts the chances of fertilisation.

This treatment circumvents any possible problems with the sperm penetrating the egg and therefore increases fertilization rates.

It is used in other circumstances too, for example, where the sperm – even just a single sperm – was obtained by epididymal or testes aspiration or biopsy. It is also an option where fertilization failed previously during conventional IVF and is recommended when performing PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) and to reduce transmission of HIV.

IVF treatment has a great success rate worldwide, and advanced procedures such as ICSI and state-of-the-art technology such as high-magnification ICSI microscopes continue to enhance this success rate.

At Cape Fertility, we achieve some of the best IVF success rates in the world. We are very proud of our success rate of 45% with IVF with ICSI.

Yet, we are always striving for higher success rates to ensure even more of our patients can experience the joy of have their own biological baby.

Choosing the right clinic for your ICSI treatment

Choosing the right fertility clinic is an important factor in the success rate you can expect from IVF with ICSI treatment.

In Claremont in the beautiful city of Cape Town, our team at Cape Fertility offers IVF with ICSI treatment at our purpose-built premises featuring an IVF Procedure Room, a modern sophisticated Laboratory with a high-magnification ICSI microscope, and an Embryo Transfer room – all adjacent to our Main Reception and Staff Offices. These facilities, along with our experienced team, ensure all the latest Assisted Conception Technologies, including IVF and ICSI, are used with great success at our fertility clinic.

We believe in making quality fertility treatment affordable, so we do not charge extra for ICSI.

At Cape Fertility, we also value each individual patient and pride ourselves on providing truly individualised and personalised care.

Your next step to IVF with ICSI treatment is simply to contact us by clicking here

When you have your IVF with ICSI treatment at Cape Fertility, you will meet one of our four reproductive specialists: all with impressive qualifications and extensive experience. You will also enjoy the support of your own IVF co-ordinator, who has a 4-year University Degree as Bachelor of Nursing (or equivalent) and is very experienced in fertility treatment and IVF.

Your IVF co-ordinator will guide you through every one of the various steps of the IVF cycle, while also answering the practical questions you may have and offering advice and support.