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ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: Definition & Explanation

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is a fertilization procedure used during IVF; with this option, a single sperm is injected into an egg. During a traditional IVF cycle, the sperm and eggs are placed next to each other in a laboratory dish in order to achieve fertilization. ICSI is performed under a microscope, using some of the most advanced micromanipulation devices available. Because the sperm is injected directly into the egg, the ICSI fertilization process has a much higher likelihood of being successful.

When Is ICSI Recommended?

ICSI is often performed during IVF for a variety of reasons. Many patients are directed to use ICSI due to low sperm count or motility, very few eggs yielded from egg retrieval, or previous IVF cycles without fertilization. ICSI is also recommended when there is a limited quantity of sperm due to an obstructed male reproductive track or a finite amount of frozen sperm.


ICSI — Getting Started

If you believe that IVF with ICSI is right for you, the first step toward getting IVF treatment is to schedule a consultation. During your consultation, you will meet with one of our board-certified infertility specialists, who will help you craft an affordable and effective fertility treatment plan. Our financial counselors are available to explain our payment plans & insurance options

ICSI — Related Topics

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is commonly used in combination with IVF. Learn more about other advanced IVF procedures, including: View more infertility treatments »

The ICSI Process

IVF is a big and often confusing step on your journey to parenthood. In order to help you understand what is involved in IVF and ICSI, we have provided a step-by-step breakdown of the intracytoplasmic sperm injection process:

  • Step 1 — IVF Preparation
    Fertility medications are prescribed to stimulate the production of several eggs. Eggs are removed from the woman’s ovaries through a quick and minimally invasive procedure. A semen sample is provided by the man, who is asked to refrain from sexual intercourse for several days before retrieval.

  • Step 2 — Laboratory
    The eggs and semen are then prepared in the laboratory for in vitro fertilization. Eggs are identified and examined for maturity while the semen is prepared through a process called sperm washing. During sperm washing, inactive cells and seminal fluid are separated from the sperm.

  • Step 3 — ICSI Fertilization
    After preparation is complete, a single sperm is isolated by a hollow glass needle and injected into the center of an egg. This process is done for every healthy egg obtained during retrieval. The eggs are then placed into a cell culture, where development can continue.

  • Step 4 — Embryo Transfer
    Once an embryo has developed, an embryologist will examine it; one or more embryos will then be transferred into the women’s uterus. The embryos are placed in a fluid through a catheter and into the womb. This is a painless procedure that may cause a bit of cramping. In preparation for embryo transfer, progesterone supplements may be taken.

  • Step 5 — Follow-Up
    The next two weeks involve a lot of waiting and checkup visits with your fertility specialist. Around two weeks after the embryo transfer, a blood test is given to determine whether you are pregnant. With expert treatment, attentive care and just a little luck, you will have a positive result. Then it is time to start planning for the new addition to your family!


Possible ICSI side effects may vary. Please speak with your physician to learn more.


Facts about ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

  • ICSI is pronounced “icksy.”
  • ICSI was developed in 1991 by Dr. Gianpiero Palermo.

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