IVF & ICSI

Medical criteria for IVF or ICSI treatment

The decision of whether IVF or ICSI treatment is suitable for a couple is based on certain medical criteria and best clinical practice. One of these criteria is that the female partner must have a BMI less than 35kg/m². 

In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) & Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

IVF and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) are both forms of assisted conception.

The treatment for both is the same, with the only difference being the method of fertilisation used in the laboratory.

Medical criteria for IVF or ICSI treatment

The decision as to whether IVF or ICSI treatment is suitable for a couple is based on certain medical criteria and best clinical practice, including the woman’s BMI.

IVF

Literally translated the term ‘In-Vitro Fertilisation’ means ‘in-glass’. This refers to the process whereby a woman’s eggs are removed from her ovary and fertilised outside her body in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred back inside her womb a few days later. IVF is suitable for women with damaged fallopian tubes or men with reduced semen quality. In addition, a large number of couples with unexplained infertility may benefit from treatment with IVF. IVF can also be used for women who are unable to produce eggs (using egg donation) or who do not have a uterus (using surrogacy).

ICSI

ICSI is similar to conventional IVF in that eggs and sperm are collected from each partner. The principal difference between the two procedures is the method of achieving fertilisation. In IVF, the eggs and sperm are mixed together in a dish and the sperm fertilises the egg ‘naturally’. In order for this to occur, large numbers of actively swimming normal sperm are required. For some couples, the number of suitable sperm available may be very limited or there may be other factors preventing fertilisation.

In these cases where conventional IVF is not an option, ICSI provides an alternative. ICSI refers to the laboratory procedure in which the embryologist injects a single sperm into each egg. With this technique very few sperm are required and the ability of the sperm to enter the egg itself is bypassed. However, the ICSI procedure itself does not guarantee fertilisation as the normal cellular events of fertilisation still need to take place once the sperm is placed within the egg.

ICSI is specifically suitable in the following circumstances:

  • When the man has a very low sperm count
  • When the sperm are not moving well or when there is a high proportion of abnormal sperm
  • When sperm are surgically retrieved from the testis
  • In treatment for couples who have previously had failed fertilisation with conventional IVF