Advantages and Disadvantages of ICSI?


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Like any fertility treatment, ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) carries with it both risks and benefits. Ultimately recreating as complex and important a bodily process as fertilisation and pregnancy outside in a lab will always carry a certain risk, but that being said the chances of success, and indeed the many benefits posed by ICSI to infertile and same sex couples as well as single parents are what have made the procedure so popular today.

What are the advantages and benefits of ICSI?

First and foremost, ICSI is a procedure which effectively eliminates male infertility by introducing sperm cells directly into an egg. While this is no guarantee of a successful fertilisation, it does improve the odds astronomically, which it does by removing the key elements that often lead to male infertility. These are sperm count, motility, and morphology (the shape and structure of the cell), all of which are vital to successful sperm action during natural conception as they are needed to get the sperm to the egg and allow it to gain access to the egg for fertilisation. As the main causes of male infertility are a low sperm count, poor motility, and poor sperm shape, you can see how ICSI is the perfect solution.

ICSI’s benefits extend beyond just acting as a treatment for male infertility, but also for anyone who is paralysed or have had in irreversible vasectomy. More importantly however, ICSI is an option for couples who have tried and failed at a standard IVF treatment. ICSI can be extremely useful where few eggs are available and so each one must have the best chance of fertilisation.

What are the disadvantages of ICSI?

ICSI’s method of directly introducing sperm into an egg defeats the natural process of only a select few sperm making it to and fertilising an egg. This can be a disadvantage because this selection process is nature’s way of making sure that the best sperm with the best genetic material are the ones with the best chance at fertilising an egg. Removing that selection process can lead to an increase risk of developmental and health issues for ICSI children, as well as a higher risk of miscarriage because of the poorer genetic material involved.

That being said at present there is no strong research proving that any of the babies conceived by ICSI have developed impairments in their cognitive and motor skills, but there is an indication of a greater risk of physical abnormalities. An international investigation into ICSI babies found that 4.2% had a major disability, most of these around male genitals. That 4.2% is thrice the number of children with similar malformations who were conceived naturally. This study also showed that a higher percentage of ICSI and IVF children suffered from a significant illness during their childhood.

As ICSI has only been in use for less than two decades, some concerns are hard to dismiss at present. One of these is the worry that children conceived through ICSI are infertile or sub-fertile as a consequence of the procedure, but again because the technique hasn’t been in use for that long, there is no concrete evidence to back such a claim.

Research into the effects of ICSI is still on going, although it might be a while before concrete findings can establish or affirm any of the more severe concerns about the technique. If you have any worries yourself, then the best thing to do is talk to your doctor, whose experience in the field and matter will shed some light on the matter and help you decide whether or not you would like to pursue ICSI as a fertility treatment.


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