How is ICSI Performed?

Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI for short, is a procedure developed to refine the existing IVF technique, and thereby improve its results and efficiency. A problem with some IVF cycles, particularly those involving male infertility, is poor fertilisation of the egg, an unwanted result that ICSI can conveniently sidestep. So how is ICSI performed?

Steps and stages of ICSI

The early stages of ICSI are exactly like those of IVF, and the first step is preparing a woman for the extraction of her eggs. To do this fertility drugs are used to suppress the normal menstrual cycle which regulates female fertility, and in doing so prepares the body for the next stage, the injection of a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone, which does exactly what it says on the tin. FSH stimulates follicles to generate more eggs for the ICSI procedure.

Towards the end of these stages you will be monitored to see how you are doing, and when it comes to the final step of the process, actually collecting the eggs, an expert specialist will guide a fine needle by way of an ultrasound probe to collect your eggs for treatment. The process can sound quite daunting, but rest assured that it is performed under sedation and is safe and broadly used.

The next stage is to use the collected eggs for the main part of ICSI, the injection of a single sperm cell from a partner or donor. Typically your sperm will have been collected, either from ejaculate or from their storage site in your testes, and examined prior to treatment to determine their quality and whether ICSI will help fertilisation. When it comes to the final injection, it will be performed by an extremely well trained expert in the field whose experience will allow him or her to use the equipment to hand to gently inject your sperm into the egg cell. While this is not a guarantee that fertilisation will occur, it drastically improves the chances of success.

After successful ICSI, three of the best quality embryos are extracted and introduced into the womb for implantation, the success of the process hopefully resulting in a new baby 9 months down the line. The number of embryos transferred is a balance between needing a few to offer a good chance of pregnancy and not providing too many which would dramatically increase the chances of multiple births.

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