For a man’s sperm to fertilize a woman’s egg, the head of the sperm must attach itself to the outside of the egg or the ova. Then the sperm pushes through the outer layer of the egg to reach into the inside of the egg (cytoplasm). Sometimes this sperm finds it difficult to penetrate the outer layer. A procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) may aid in fertilizing the egg by micro-injection of the sperm directly into the egg.
How does Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) work?
In traditional IVF, the sperm are mixed with the woman’s egg in a laboratory setting outside the woman’s body. If ICSI is needed, a minute needle is used to inject a sperm into the center of the egg. The fertilized egg is then grown in a laboratory for a period of about one to five days, then it is implanted back into the woman’s uterus (womb) to grow as a healthy baby.
What are the indications of Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)?
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) helps to overcome a man’s fertility problems, for instance:
- He may produce too few sperm (low sperm counts)
- His sperm may be not be shaped correctly or move in a normal fashion (misshapen sperm or limited sperm motility)
- The sperm may have trouble attaching to the egg (problems in fertilization)
- A blockage in his reproductive tract may prevent normal flow of sperm.
- This procedure can also be tried when the use of traditional IVF has not brought about fertilization, regardless of the sperm’s condition.