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Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

ICSI definition

ICSI procedure

ICSI duration

ICSI eligibility

ICSI success rates

Is ICSI painful?

ICSI risks

Difference between IMSI and PICSI

Cost of ICSI

What is ICSI?

ICSI is the most common and successful infertility treatment for male infertility issues. As we have mentioned before, roughly 1 in 6 people experience infertility struggles, but it is not always a woman’s issue, as it may have been believed in previous years. Actually, one-third of the issues are from women, one-third from men, and the other third from unknown sources (unexplained infertility). 

ICSI procedure

This type of treatment has pretty much the same procedure as IVF. The main difference is that instead of mixing the sperm with the eggs and leaving them to fertilize, a skilled embryologist will inject a single sperm into the egg.

This maximizes the chance of fertilization taking place as it bypasses any potential problems the sperm will have in getting inside the egg.

Procedure in steps:

Step 1: Sperm collection

Step 2: Egg collection

Step 3: Sperm injection

Step 4: Observation

Step 5: Implantation

Always consult with a fertility specialist for more detailed information, according to your exact medical needs.

How long does ICSI treatment take?

One cycle of ICSI usually takes four to six weeks, as IVF treatment. The egg and sperm collection takes up to half a day and if fertilization is successful the woman must return to the clinic two to five days after collection for the embryo transfer. 

Who is eligible for ICSI?

Males that have:

  • low sperm count
  • abnormally shaped sperm
  • sperm with low motility
  • high levels of antibodies against the sperm
  • retrograde ejaculation
  • people who had previously failed IVF cycles

sperm injection from a tube

ICSI can also be recommended when sperm has DNA damage, or when the sperm used for fertilization has been recovered through surgical sperm retrieval.

How successful is ICSI?

A very important thing you should keep in mind while on your fertility journey is that the success rate of a fertility treatment is affected by many factors, such as the woman’s age, woman’s fertility levels, when she and her partner decide to perform the treatment, etc. ICSI, as it is almost the same technique as IVF, has similar success rates. ICSI usually fertilizes 50-80% of the eggs it is performed on. Pregnancy success rates for IVF with ICSI have been shown in some studies to be higher than for IVF without ICSI. This is because in many of the cases needing ICSI the female is relatively young and fertile (good egg quantity and quality) as compared to some of the women having IVF for other reasons. The universal average success rate for IVF treatment fluctuates between 30-40% percent overall. In Greece the overall success rate is 55%, making it a very popular destination for IVF.

Is the ICSI procedure painful?

Same to IVF, the procedure itself is not painful as it is performed under local anesthesia or sedation. However, some women may experience mild discomfort or cramping during the egg retrieval process. Nothing alarming though and nothing to be feared of. The most important thing is -at all times- to maintain a steady mental health state. The emotional rollercoaster of a fertility treatment can hurt your mental health and put you under excessive stress that has been found to negatively impact the performance of the fertility process. 

Risks associated with ICSI

During the ICSI procedure, a small number of eggs – usually less than 5%– can be damaged as a result of the needle insertion. Second, there is an increased risk of a chromosomal abnormality, higher than with spontaneous conception. Scientists haven’t concluded yet what causes this raise. 

Following a chromosomal abnormality, the below issues may arise too:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Heart problems for affected infants that may require surgery
  • Increased risk of behavior or learning disabilities
  • Increased risk of infertility in your children during their adulthood

The risk of having a chromosomal abnormality like Down’s syndrome is not increased with ICSI but increases with maternal age.

Information is not to be taken into 100% account as it is not definite that any of the above problems will arise when you’ll perform ICSI. Always in cooperation with your fertility specialist you will decide the best plan, according to your wants and needs. 

What is the difference between IMSI and PICSI?

IMSI and PICSI are two variations of ICSI, another way to select sperm in order to then inject it into the eggs. IMSI uses ultra-high magnification to look for irregular features in the sperm head, while PICSI tests the ability of sperm to bind to a substance that is present on the surface of the egg. For more information on which type of ICSI you might need, please consult with a fertility specialist.

How much does ICSI cost?

In most clinics, ICSI costs the same as IVF. See our relevant article about some of the costs in different European countries, and also the prices for some of our cooperating fertility doctors. 

Eager to start your fertility journey and achieve your pregnancy goals?

We should inform you that Greece takes pride in being one of the best destinations for fertility treatments. That’s because of the highly-skilled fertility doctors, the top-notch clinics, the low prices (lower than other countries such as the UK and USA), the no waiting lists, the good legislation, the new IVF age limit of up to 54 years old, and of course because of its beauty as a country! Especially in summer, you can combine your fertility treatment with some relaxing vacation to our Greek islands that will ease the emotional rollercoaster we mentioned above 🙂 

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Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)