Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the injection of a single sperm directly into the centre of a mature egg. This procedure is performed by a trained embryologist.

Who is ICSI best suited for?

This is a treatment option for patients with:

  • poor sperm motility
  • poor sperm morphology
  • a low sperm count
  • surgically recovered sperm
  • women using thawed eggs
  • couples having pre‐implantation genetic testing.

It is also used following the rare event of a failed fertilisation with the standard IVF technique.

What is the ICSI Procedure?

A fresh or frozen semen sample is prepared on the day of the procedure by an embryologist. After the egg collection, the eggs are washed and examined to determine which eggs are mature enough for injection.

How is the sperm injected into the egg?

Under a microscope, an embryologist specially trained in the ICSI technique, selects a single sperm for injection. Using a fine glass needle the sperm is aspirated and then injected into the centre of a selected egg. The injected eggs are cultured in labelled sterile culture dishes in an incubator overnight.

What are the risks of ICSI?

The first live birth following ICSI was reported in 1992 and therefore it is a relatively new technology. Some of the risks include:

  • irreparable damage to the eggs in approximately 5%‐ 10% of eggs injected.
  • children resulting from the ICSI procedure have an increased risk of a sex chromosomal abnormality of 1:100 compared to a risk of 1:400 of children who are spontaneously conceived.
  • the manifestations of sex chromosomal abnormalities are variable but include infertility and reduced intelligence.


For the cost of ICSI and other IVF treatments, visit our IVF cost page

Is ICSI more successful than IVF?

Find out in this article.

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