What it is ICSI and how does it work?

ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is a form of in vitro fertilization (IVF). ICSI becomes a viable solution to fertility problems when there is also a problem with the male’s fertility.

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The ICSI procedure involves injecting sperm directly into a woman’s egg cell or oocyte. The eggs must first be harvested from the woman’s ovaries.

One of the harvested eggs is chosen and placed on a slide under a microscope. Special microscopic devices are used to hold the egg in place as a microscopic pipette is used to collect a single sperm.

The sperm’s tail is removed prior to this phase in order to prevent movement. The pipette pokes a tiny hole in the egg and the sperm is released inside of it.

Multiple eggs are usually fertilized this way in order to improve results by increasing the chance that fertilization will occur. Once the sperm has been placed inside of the egg, the egg is placed in a growing culture. Signs of fertilization should be present the following day.

Concern has been raised concerning the results of ICSI, because it replaces the natural selection process.

Ordinarily, sperms compete for entry into the egg. The outer membrane of the oocyte hardens after one sperm has entered. This prevents additional sperm from entering.

It has been assumed that the sperm that makes it to the egg fastest is one of the healthiest. The sperm is less likely to have genetic or chromosome abnormalities, such as a missing or extra chromosome. Those abnormalities are a cause of birth defects and may be involved in childhood cancer.

Since there is no competition of sperm in intracytoplasmic sperm injection, some doctors have worried that the risk of birth defects could be greater than those that accompany standard IVF. A new discovery and procedure has helped to remove that worry.

A compound called hyaluronic acid surrounds the membrane of the oocyte. Researchers have determined that some mature sperm will bind to the hyaluronic acid. They have also learned that those sperms show fewer chromosome abnormalities than sperm that do not bind to the compound.

The results of these discoveries are special microscopic tools that allow the embryologist to capture only the sperm that binds to the drop of hyaluronic acid. The use of these tools should also increase the pregnancy rates for in vitro fertilization.

Sperm chromosome abnormality is one of the reasons that IVF can fail to produce a pregnancy. Another factor that may have a negative effect on the results of ICSI is semen quality.

There may be a slightly higher risk of birth defects when any type of in vitro fertilization is used. Several studies have been conducted concerning the risk, but the results so far have been inconclusive. Some showed that there was a higher risk. Others showed no increased risk.

IVF is an alternative when a woman’s fallopian tubes are damaged. By using donor eggs, in vitro fertilization can also be used when the ovaries are no longer functional.

ICSI is only necessary when there is some concern about the man’s fertility. Your doctor can tell you more about which procedure is the right choice for you.

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