Is ICSI for Me?
There are many different fertility treatments available on the market today, and part of receiving excellent care is down to the delivery of the most appropriate treatment for you. You may have heard of ICSI, also called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, a method which is relatively recent but extremely effective at delivering pregnancies efficiently and at reasonable cost through IVF.
What is ICSI?
Before delving into whether or not ICSI is a good choice for you, it’s worth looking into how the process works. The concept behind ICSI is a fairly simple one, and basically just involves taking a single sperm cell and injecting it straight into a viable egg to fertilise it, removing the element of chance that’s always involved when sperm are left to their own devices and to fertilise an egg cell.
As you may have gathered from this description, ICSI is designed to target and facilitate the male part of fertilisation, the other component is, of course, generating a viable egg for the procedure which can be done through egg donations as well as through collecting eggs from a female partner. Once the egg has been gathered, ICSI has been performed, and the resulting fertilised egg has become an embryo, the final stage is taking that embryo and transferring it into a womb for it to grow as it normally would.
Is ICSI for me?
ICSI is remarkable in that it tackles the major causes of male infertility and elegantly side steps them. Low sperm count is one of these for example, and is detrimental to male fertility because through sexual intercourse, few sperm actually make it to the egg and fewer still begin to come close to fertilising it. Even with a high sperm count it can take many months to conceive, but with a lower sperm count those chances are drastically reduced. ICSI takes a single sperm cell and inserts it right into an egg, meaning that all you really need is one sperm taken from a sample to achieve conception.
Other problems with your sperm can also be conveniently bypassed through ICSI, namely problems with morphology (shape and structure which is key to healthy sperm function) and motility (the ability of sperm to move). Sperm are extremely specialised cells and need both of these qualities to be able to access and fertilise an egg cell. If there is a deficiency or problem with either morphology and/or motility, ICSI is the perfect solution as it, again, directly introduces the male component into fertilisation.
ICSI can also be used when sperm need to be extracted after a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a surgery which achieves male sterilisation by cutting the tube that brings sperm cells into ejaculation. The surgery is reversible, but some may opt to have sperm cells extracted from the two areas in which these cells are stored, the testicles and epididymis.
Finally ICSI is a useful treatment if there is a complete absence of sperm in your ejaculate, but there are sperm cells within your testicles. Similarly if you are suffering from impotence (difficulty getting an erection) or premature ejaculation then ICSI can help, as well as anyone with a debilitating condition that makes it difficult for them to ejaculate.
ICSI and IVF
ICSI is also very useful as a refinement of IVF. Some couples will need to go through many IVF cycles before achieving a successful pregnancy, which can be difficult to go through and become extremely costly. A failed IVF cycle which has been attributed to poor fertilisation can be enhanced by using ICSI to increase the chances of fertilisation.
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