Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is still a relatively new procedure to the IVF world and refers to the technique of injecting a single sperm into the centre of the egg. In natural conception, a large number of sperm surround the egg and many attach to the outside, but only one sperm penetrates and fertilises each egg. In IVF embryologists mimic what happens naturally by adding a large number of sperm to the dish containing the egg. When fertilisation does not occur, it is usually because the sperm cannot attach to or penetrate the egg. This can be because of a fault with either the sperm or the egg and when abnormal fertilisation occurs, it is usually because more than one sperm has entered the egg. ICSI can overcome problems of failed or abnormal fertilisation by placing a single sperm directly in the centre of the egg.


ICSI is currently used in couples with reduced semen counts or where there is reduced sperm motility and in patients who have previously had very low or no fertilisation in previous IVF attempts. ICSI may also be used by some clinics if the sperm sample has been frozen and stored before the treatment takes place.

If your consultant deems ICSI to be beneficial for you, this is included under your Assured plan, you would burden no extra cost for this. You will also undergo the exact same process as someone having the IVF procedure as the only difference between the IVF and ICSI is what takes place in the lab during the fertilisation process.

On the day of your egg collection, the embryologist will carefully remove the outer cells from each egg, they do this by using an enzyme normally produced by sperm. By using a high-powered specialist microscope, the embryologist can see inside the egg and assess if the egg is mature. All eggs can be inseminated by IVF, but only mature eggs can have ICSI performed on them. The sperm is prepared as it would be for an IVF procedure and then the embryologist picks out individual live sperm (that appear normal under microscope) and inject one into each egg using a special fine needle. Once the ICSI procedure has been performed, the eggs are returned to the incubator and are left overnight to hopefully allow fertilisation to occur and will be checked the following morning to report how many have fertilised.

There are, as with all treatments, some slight risks with ICSI which can include damage to the egg during the injection procedure and selection of sperm that wouldn’t necessarily be successful at penetrating the egg, but your consultant will explain these fully to you during your consultation. However, taking these into account ICSI offers the opportunity of success for couples who could not necessarily achieve it otherwise.

Holly Scott, Patient and Clinic Liaison Manager


Assured Fertility provide fast-tracked IVF and egg donation plans with no hidden extras. If you don’t have a baby you get 100% of your money back.*

*subject to acceptance on our plan