What is ICSI & what are the risks?
ICSI is short for intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (catchy name eh!). It’s a process that describes the artificial injection of sperm into an egg with a needle to create a fertilised embryo. In traditional IVF, the sperm sample is mixed with the eggs in a glass dish and left to get on with it.
But the reality is that not all men’s sperm are quite up to the job and that’s where ICSI comes in. In this case, the embryologist injects a single sperm right inside the egg with a hollow needle, saving it a swim. It wasn’t invented until the 1990s but now it’s becoming more and more popular. In fact, research is showing that ICSI results in a higher pregnancy rate than conventional IVF.
New ICSI Risk
However recent research (May 2012) looking at over 300,000 IVF and ICSI births has shown a significant increase in the chances of birth abnormalities of your baby. Th risk increases up to ten in every 100 births from five in every hundred. So we never undertake this procedure lightly and you should be aware of the increased risks. InterTrust Fertility includes ICSI as part of our fertility treatment plans in Barcelona, we don’t charge extra for it and we’ll only suggest you need it if your consultant feels it absolutely necessary. Even though there are numerous ICSI success stories. You also need to be aware of the risks.
Although it isn’t natural & with these increased risks may seem a bad idea, but it does work – around three-quarters of all eggs injected in this way are successfully fertilised. Thanks to ICSI, many men have been able to father children.
Why might I need ICSI?
Primarily, ICSI deals with male infertility. If the woman’s eggs are okay or even if unexplained infertility hasn’t been ruled out, but her body seems able to handle a pregnancy, then a donor can be used but many couples would rather have a child that is genetically theirs.
Any man with a low sperm count (less than 15-20 million per millilitre), low sperm motility (you could call it ‘lazy’!) or abnormally shaped sperm is a candidate for ICSI. Many couples do ICSI for the first time after doing an initial IVF cycle in which very few eggs were fertilised. It can even be used for men who have already had a vasectomy or have trouble ejaculating normally.
In situations like this, it’s a rare chance for the man to feel the needle and sperm can be collected surgically from the testicles. Try not to wince – percutaneous sperm aspiration, or PESA, involves drawing out seminal fluid with a needle. Alternatively, a small cut can be made in the scrotum (yes, you read that right, guys) and a needle can be used to hunt down and draw out sperm or a tissue sample that hopefully contains them.
ICSI is also useful for women who don’t produce a lot of eggs after stimulation with drugs. Using ICSI at this stage will help make the best of the situation by upping the number that are fertilised.