Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an in vitro fertilization procedure typically used to address severe male-factor infertility, such as poor motility. During ICSI, a single sperm cell is injected directly into the cytoplasm of the egg to accomplish fertilization. Once fertilization occurs, the embryo typically grows in the laboratory for up to six days.

What is intracytoplasmic sperm injection?

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure used to treat sperm-related infertility. ICSI is a technique used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and can be used to achieve pregnancy despite low motility, abnormal sperm morphology, or decreased sperm concentration.

ICSI involves injecting a single sperm cell into the cytoplasm of an egg to achieve fertilization. Patients typically provide a sperm sample to the doctor on the day of the procedure. If that is not possible, the sperm can be extracted from the epididymis or testicles directly or frozen in advance.

Once the egg is fertilized, the newly-formed embryo grows in the laboratory for about six days, and is then transferred to the uterus. 

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection for male fertility

Patients suffering from infertility issues can turn to ICSI for a higher likelihood of achieving conception. ICSI is an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure that injects sperm directly into the egg, helping infertile patients bypass common fertility problems, such as asthenospermia, oligospermia, and azoospermia, and allowing them to father biological children of their own.

Typically, ICSI is used for patients that experience severe cases of infertility, where little to no sperm enters the ejaculate or very few sperm are motile (moving). However, ICSI can also be used for non-sperm related problems, including for couples with IVF failure or those using a limited quantity of frozen sperm.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection vs. in vitro fertilization

The key distinction between IVF and ICSI is that while IVF involves combining the egg and the sperm in the petri dish to fertilize on their own, ICSI involves the proactive intervention of injecting the sperm directly into the egg.

History of intracytoplasmic sperm injection

ICSI was first pioneered by Gianpiero Palermo at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and was in fact, discovered by mistake. In 1990, the first active embryo was produced as a result of ICSI. The first successful birth using this technique occurred just two years later in 1992. Today, ICSI has grown increasingly popular, with many patients turning to this procedure to achieve pregnancy.

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