Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

One of the methods used to assist fertilization through IVF is intracytoplasmic sperm injection, better known as ICSI and pronounced “ick see.” ICSI is one of the reproductive medicine field’s most highly utilized groundbreaking techniques. It revolutionized treatment options for men with low or no sperm counts, whose only previous option was donor sperm.

ICSI involves the use of very fine instruments to pick up sperm and the area outside the nuclear cell of the oocyte, which contains the physical elements of reproduction. Then an embryologist injects a single sperm directly into the cytoplasm (outer layer of the egg cell) of the egg using a high-powered microscope and pipette.

ICSI works well for cases of severe male factor infertility, when abnormal sperm movement or low sperm numbers make it impossible for sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg. It also is effective for unexplained non-fertilization with conventional IVF or to increase the chances of fertilization when few eggs have been produced.

It also can be referred to as assisted microfertilization or micromanipulation. It often is used in conjunction with other advanced male infertility techniques such as percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA) and testicular sperm extraction (TESE), which are utilized for removing sperm from men who have had vasectomies or who only have sperm germ cells in the epididymis (vessels) of their testicles.