What is ICSI?

ICSI is an IVF procedure where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. This method is particularly successful if the male partner has fertility issues such as low sperm count or poor motility.

Embryos are then grown for three to six days in a specially designed incubator with the hope of a resulting embryo being transferred into the woman’s uterus. Additional, good quality embryos can be frozen for future use in a Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycle.

How is ICSI different from IVF?

For the most part, the ICSI treatment process is the same as a regular IVF cycle. The main difference is the fertilisation technique that the embryologists use in the lab on the day the eggs are collected.

ICSI may be used in the following circumstances:

What is involved?

The following stages are involved in an ICSI treatment cycle:

  1. The first stage of the ICSI treatment cycle is ovarian hyper-stimulation. This is achieved through self-administered medication to suppress the natural hormonal cycle along with a self-administered trigger injection. Both of these medications help to stimulate the growth and maturation of eggs. The idea of injecting yourself can be daunting, but rest assured that you will be guided through the process every step of the way.
  2. Egg development is then monitored through blood tests and ultrasound scans.
  3. The eggs are surgically removed from the ovaries in a day procedure called an egg collection (or transvaginal oocyte aspiration). The procedure itself usually does not take more than 30-minutes and requires a twilight sedation. Post-surgical recovery is generally no longer than two hours.
  4. On the day of the egg collection, either your partner’s sperm or the donor sample is prepared in the laboratory. Our expert embryologists will choose the ideal sperm from the sample and this process can take hours. The ideal sperm will have both normal morphology (shape) and good motility (movement).
  5. The fluffy cells (cumulus) surrounding your eggs will be taken off so the embryologist can determine which eggs are mature. A single sperm will be selected and injected into each mature egg. The egg is returned to the incubator to allow for fertilisation to occur.
  6. If the fertilisation process is successful, the egg can/may divide to form an embryo. Embryos are grown in our purpose-designed incubators in the laboratory. We take great care in monitoring them and will grow them for six days (the blastocyst stage). In some cycles, depending on embryo number and quality, a day 3 transfer/freeze may be more suited to you.
  7. Once the embryos have reached the desired stage, our embryologist team will then select the best embryo and transfer it into the uterus. You will be provided with progesterone supplementation to prepare the lining of the uterus for embryo implantation. The embryo transfer is a simple process and is similar to a pap smear. The procedure itself only takes about five minutes and is done by one of our experienced fertility specialists and an embryologist. Any additional good quality embryos can be frozen for future cycles.
  8. Once the embryo has been transferred to the uterus, you will have a 2 week wait (dependent on day of transfer) before a blood test is taken to establish if there is the presence of pregnancy hormone. The waiting period can be a difficult time, so if you would like some additional support, our compassionate and caring counsellors are here to help.

Our experienced team is here for you throughout the entire ICSI treatment. We’re here to ensure that you understand each step of the process and have both the information and support you need. For more information on the ICSI process, contact us here.

How long does ICSI take?

An ICSI treatment cycle begins on day 1 of your period and ends with the blood test about four weeks later. It’s important to note that it can take more than one ICSI cycle to get a positive pregnancy test.

What are the risks associated with ICSI procedures?

When eggs are collected, it is normal for only about 80% to be mature, but every patient and cycle is different. Only eggs that are mature are suitable for an ICSI procedure to be performed as only these eggs have the correct number of chromosomes to be able to accept chromosomes from the sperm. There is a risk that you may have a much smaller number of eggs injected than eggs collected.

Very rarely, an egg may degenerate after being injected.

What are the emotional support options?

At Concept Fertility, we have experienced counsellors here to help you along your ICSI journey. Our counsellors are there for you throughout your entire fertility treatment and will provide you with support and a listening ear.

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