Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, or ICSI. is widely used in assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. Since IVF depends upon fertilizing the patient’s eggs outside her body, the sperm needs to be prepared and fused with the egg cells in a very precise manner. This critical phase of IVF is done through ICSI. Here, the sperm is injected within an egg that is mature enough to be fertilized. Later, the fertilized egg is carefully implanted in the uterus of the IVF female. The use of ICSI is applicable across many medical conditions that have been explained below.
Common Conditions Treated with ICSI
ICSI is usually recommended to an IVF couple when the male is suffering from sperm-related problems, and his infertility cannot be treated with fertility medications. It should be noted that in IVF, it is almost a conventional practice to prepare the female for producing healthier, mature eggs by prescribing many kinds of hormonal supplements. However, this isn't applicable to IVF males suffering from long-term infertility.
This is because very little can be done through conventional medications to treat conditions like weak sperm motility. Such medical conditions in the male are tested during the early part of IVF counseling. Usually, the semen analysis clearly indicates towards such medical conditions. Examples of typical, male infertility conditions treated with ICSI include:
- Oligospermia—a medical condition easily recognized through semen analysis that causes partial or total blockage of the male’s reproductive tract. This gives rise to extremely limited or low sperm count.
- Absence of Vas Deferens—if the male is suffering from a congenital absence of vas deferens, there is no possibility of the sperm being able to fertilize the eggs without assistance.
Rare Conditions Treated with ICSI
Males suffering from Teratospermia have very little success in fertilizing the eggs of the female without ICSI assistance. The sperm structure among such males is a bit abnormal. This makes the sperm vulnerable to reduced motility, apart from rendering it ineffective when trying to penetrate the outer cell of the eggs.
Other Medical Conditions Treated with ICSI
Besides various male infertility factors, some other not-so-common medical conditions might induce the IVF specialist in recommending Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. These include:
- History of Failed IVF Treatments—this largely indicates towards an underlying problem with the failure to fertilize the mature eggs in the appropriate manner, unless a diagnosable gynecological condition is preventing successful pregnancy. In such cases, IVF couples are suggested to seek a better mode of fertilization, i.e. seeking Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection for injecting the sperm.
- History of Vasectomy—if the IVF male has recently sought a surgery to reverse a prior vasectomy, there is greater likelihood that his sperm won’t be motile enough to penetrate through the oocytes (female egg cells). This is applicable even if the male can provide sufficient amounts of sperm.
Please note that some IVF clinics may even put forth the option of using ICSI to its IVF couples during the pre-treatment IVF counseling. This puts forth an additional expense for IVF couples, but many choose it since it maximizes chances of fertilization.