Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection versus Similar Treatments

IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a micro manipulative method used for assisting pregnancy in couples who are facing problems in conception. Here, the oocyte or the egg retrieved from the woman is injected with a sperm by means of a micro manipulator. Thus, the chances of fertilization are enhanced through this method of forced penetration of the sperm. ICSI is helpful for the couples whose infertility is due to low motility of the sperm. Before opting for ICSI, it's important to understand the pros and cons of this procedure and other similar treatments.

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)

In this procedure, the sperm of the male partner are washed and injected into the uterus of the woman during the time of ovulation. This method just facilitates the sperms to reach the egg, thereby increasing chances of fertilization. However, the success of sperm fertilizing here is very limited.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

This is the method of assisted reproductive technology where the oocyte and sperm are incubated together to facilitate fertilization. This method provides a fertilization rate of 50% to 70%. However, it may not help cases where the male partner has a fertility issue. Though the fertilization rate is less when compared to ICSI, the implantation rate of IVF is more than that of the ICSI method. Thus, IVF is normally more effective than ICSI, except for in cases where the male partner has fertility issues.

Sub Zonal Insemination (SUZI)

In this method, the sperm are placed near the oolemma in the perivitelline space using a micropipette. Thus, it allows for the natural selection of sperm that fertilizes the oocyte. However, all sperm cannot interact with oolemma to proceed further with the fertilization; hence, the rate of fertilization is less in this method of fertilization. Another issue in this method of fertilization is that multiple sperms can enter the oocyte, resulting in multiple births or polyploidy.

ICSI Process

Micromanipulation method of sperm injection is done to enhance the chances of fertilization of oocyte and the sperm. Sperm is first immobilized by holding its tail with an injection pipette and the egg is held in position by means of a holding pipette. Then, the sperm is injected into the oocyte through its Zona Pellucida and oolemma. Micro-assisted techniques help the sperm to penetrate the Zona Pellucida (outer covering) of the oocyte. This penetration is achieved either by applying an acid with a micropipette or by piercing the membrane with a micro needle. Even laser can be used to slice the Zona Pellucida. Testicular sperm extraction method and ICSI when performed in combination are found to be more effective even in patients with Azoopsermia or Kilinefelter syndrome.

As the chance of fertilization is considerably increased in the method of intracytoplasmic sperm injection, it is the most often suggested assisted reproductive technology, especially for couples facing fertility issues because of the male partner. ICSI gives hopes to couples with problems such as poor sperm morphology, low sperm count or motility, or presence of anti-sperm antibodies. However, if a defective sperm gets injected, there are chances that the child may be born with genetic defects or abnormalities.