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intracytoplasmic sperm injection (icsi)

With ICSI a tiny needle, called a micropipette, is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg. this increases rates of fertilization, because the sperm has to do less work to fertilize the egg.

Does ICSI cost more?

Nope, mate does not charge more for ICSI compared to conventional IVF, and we perform ICSI on every egg. Studies support that ICSI leads to a higher fertilization rate. It’s our mission to provide equitable, affordable, and accessible fertility care, so we include ICSI in all our packages. We keep costs down and fertilization rates up! 

What is ICSI?

There are two ways to achieve fertilization with IVF: conventional and ICSI. In traditional IVF, about 50,000 or more swimming sperm are placed next to the egg in a laboratory dish. Fertilization occurs when one of the sperm enters into the cytoplasm of the egg.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, involves injecting a single live, healthy sperm (identified by your embryologist) directly into the center of an egg. The technique was originally developed to help achieve fertilization for those struggling with male factor infertility. This is because ICSI makes it easier for the sperm to get into the egg. It’s also used for couples who have had failure to fertilize in previous IVF cycles. At mate, we don’t charge extra for ICSI (unlike many clinics who consider this an add-on), as it’s a standard part of all our cycles. ICSI has been scientifically proven to increase fertilization rates.

Why is ICSI used?

ICSI is typically used when infertility is suspected to be caused primarily by a sperm dysfunction. Typically, this is diagnosed based on a severely abnormal semen analysis, or a history of prior fertilization failure with IVF. 

Other reasons ICSI may be used:

  • ICSI is used when sperm needs to be surgically obtained from the testicle(s) because testicular sperm are not able to swim effectively and thus cannot swim to the egg and fertilize it conventionally.
  • ICSI may be used to improve the accuracy of some embryo biopsy testing because it decreases the risk of contamination– sperm that get stuck near the embryo might accidentally be sampled during an embryo biopsy and confuse the results when conventional IVF is used.
  • ICSI is typically used on any eggs that have been frozen because of the theoretical risk that the shell around the egg (the zona-pellucida) may be less penetrable to sperm, although currently the data on this practice is limited.
  • In some studies ICSI for unexplained infertility has been associated with increased fertilization rates and decreased risk of failed fertilization. The Number Needed to Treat (NNT) is the number of patients you need to treat to prevent one bad outcome. When there is no suspicion of sperm dysfunction, ICSI is estimated to prevent unexpected fertilization with an NNT of 30 patients.

Is ICSI safe?

Infertility studies have shown that, because of severe sperm dysfunction, ICSI has been associated with a small increased risk of adverse outcomes in children born. However, these risks can actually be attributed to the underlying sperm dysfunction. We know this because similar risks have been associated with conventional, non ICSI IVF, in cases where there is severe sperm dysfunction. 

It is important to note that data is on-going and there may be risks with either ICSI or conventional IVF that we are not yet fully aware of, but generally IVF and ICSI are both considered extremely safe.