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Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, ICSI

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection can help overcome a very low sperm count

Sperm is an essential part of human reproduction. For fertilization to occur, there must be enough motile (moving) sperm to travel to the egg and then penetrate it. When a man has a low sperm count, fertilization is more difficult. Thankfully, Erika Munch MD offers several options, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, to help men overcome male infertility and become fathers.

With mild male infertility, our San Antonio fertility doctor will likely use intrauterine insemination (IUI). This treatment, also known as artificial insemination, can improve the chances of fertilization and pregnancy. However, when a man’s sperm count is very low, Dr. Munch may recommend in vitro fertilization with ICSI.

What does IVF look like without intracytoplasmic sperm injection?

To fully understand ICSI, it’s helpful to know how fertilization works during a conventional IVF cycle. During this type of IVF cycle, our laboratory team processes a man’s semen to obtain the most motile, normally shaped sperm.

Our embryologists then place many sperm into petri dish containing the eggs. This process occurs four to six hours after the egg retrieval. After adding the sperm to the dish, the embryologists place the eggs and sperm into an incubator for 16 to 18 hours so that fertilization can occur.

Conventional IVF without ICSI isn’t right for everyone. If a man’s sperm doesn’t meet the strict requirements for this type of cycle, our San Antonio fertility doctor will likely recommend intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

What does IVF look like with ICSI?

If a man has a very low sperm count or there are concerns about sperm quality, ICSI may be able to help. Additionally, this treatment is usually recommended when performing preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) as a part of in vitro fertilization. As opposed to conventional IVF, where multiple sperm normally bind to the egg’s surface as part of the fertilization process, injecting a single sperm helps prevent any genetic contamination from those extra sperm that could result in errors during testing.

Prior to performing ICSI, our embryologists will remove the cumulus cells from around the egg. They will then examine the eggs to determine which ones are mature and ready for fertilization. Next, they will use a tiny needle to inject a single sperm into each mature egg. This procedure requires a high level of technical skill. The embryologists then place the fertilized eggs into an incubator for 16 to 18 hours.

Keep in mind that intracytoplasmic sperm injection does not guarantee successful fertilization. However, it does give each mature egg a better chance of being fertilized.

If you would like to learn more about advanced fertility treatments like IVF with ICSI, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our San Antonio fertility doctor can help you learn more about your family-building options.