Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a method of inseminating eggs. It involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg using a fine glass needle (as opposed to standard IVF where the sperm has to penetrate the egg by itself).
It is recommended in cases where there are not enough motile sperm to fertilize an egg using normal IVF. It is particularly useful in cases where sperm parameters are severely reduced. The procedure was developed in 1992 and has been a major advance in the treatment of male factor infertility.
While most studies on children born as a result of ICSI are reassuring, some concerns have been raised in recent years that these children may be at a slight increased risk of rare genetic abnormalities, called imprinting problems. These are, however, extremely rare.
There is also a risk that genetic fertility problems may be passed on where the cause of the male infertility is a genetic one. A resultant male child may have the same fertility problem as his father when he in turn decides to have children. For men with very low sperm counts, chromosome tests can be done to ascertain whether or not there is a genetic fertility problem. If this arises, couples can be referred to a genetic counsellor for specialist advice.