What is ICSI Infertility Treatment?

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.

In this article, we find out what exactly ICSI is, when it is recommended, what the treatment entails, how successful it is, and how to choose the right fertility clinic for your ICSI treatment.

What is ICSI?

Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a medical procedure used in specific circumstances during in vitro fertilisation treatment.

In vitro fertilization – or IVF as it is commonly called – is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that is used to treat fertility or genetic problems. IVF is a safe and trusted medical treatment, and its success rate is impressive.

One of the procedures during conventional IVF treatment is the fertilisation of the eggs retrieved from the female partner or a donor. 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 and it is very effective in certain circumstances.

What does ICSI entail?

ICSI is one of the procedures completed during the IVF treatment process, which spans around 28 days. To illustrate where ICSI fits into the process, here is a brief description of the IVF process.

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

During conventional IVF treatment, the fertilisation of the eggs is achieved in an advanced laboratory by mixing the eggs ‘in vitro’ (in glass) with tens of thousands of washed sperm, allowing the sperm direct access to fertilise the eggs retrieved from the female partner or a donor.

This process is replaced by ICSI. 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.

This is just one of the procedures during IVF treatment, however.

IVF is not a single medical procedure or event, but a series of detailed and delicate procedures that are completed over a number of weeks – from the first day of the cycle to the pregnancy test completed two weeks after the egg retrieval.

Treatment usually commences on the first two to three days of the female partner’s cycle with medications in the form of tablets or injections to stimulate the growth of the eggs, as well as medications to suppress ovulation. Patients are carefully monitored using blood tests and ultrasound scans, usually starting on the eighth day of the cycle. Another two scans are done on the tenth and twelfth days.

The next step is the egg collection. It begins with an HCG injection usually on the evening of day 12. The egg collection procedure takes about two hours and is performed under sedation. A progesterone hormone is given to prepare the lining of the uterus (womb) for the 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 may be recommended instead of the traditional IVF method. 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. 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.

When is ICSI recommended?

So, when you would have 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.

What are the chances of success?

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 / 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 / ICSI treatment.

In Claremont in the beautiful city of Cape Town, our team at Cape Fertility offers IVF / 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.

When you have your IVF / 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.

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

At Cape Fertility, we look forward to providing you with individualised and personalised care, affordable quality fertility treatment, and higher success rates at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town.