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IVF And ICSI Basics: What’s The Difference Between IVF And ICSI?

Here we aim to explain the basics of IVF and ICSI treatments (In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)), establishing the main differences between each.

What Is IVF?

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is one of the most commonly used fertility treatments. . The process involves retrieving the woman’s eggs and placing them into a laboratory dish that contains prepared sperm, that has been provided by the male party. When placed together in the dish, the sperm will penetrate and attempt to fertilise the eggs naturally, creating embryos.  These embryos are then monitored by an embryologist for up to 5 days and then when the time is right, the strongest are selected and transferred back to the womb at the right time, or frozen for later use.

Who Is IVF For?

IVF was originally designed to assist with fertility issues due to blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. However, due to its success, it now treats a broader range of infertility problems. This includes:

IVF Risks

Before proceeding with any form of fertility treatment, it is important to understand the risks involved. Potential IVF risks include:

Poor Response: When going through IVF,  tests are conducted to predict ovarian response. However, sometimes, an inadequate response might occur. This essentially means that the ovaries fail to respond to stimulation, making it difficult to collect any eggs.

No Eggs: Although rare to happen unexpectedly, you may find that no eggs can be collected when attempting IVF. This links to poor egg quality, which might suggest that another form of fertility treatment (such as an egg donor) is needed.

Ectopic Pregnancy: Unfortunately, up to 5% of  IVF and ICSI pregnancies may be ectopic. This means that the pregnancy occurs outside of the womb, affecting miscarriage rates by around 10%.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: As the name suggests, OHSS occurs when the ovaries get overstimulated. Although a rare risk of IVF, it’s important to be aware of, as a small number of OHSS cases require hospitalisation.

Just as with any form of treatment, always speak to your fertility consultant about the risks involved with IVF or ICSI.

What Is ICSI?

ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. It is a type of IVF that similarly involves the retrieval of eggs and then selecting a single sperm and injecting it directly into an egg. The fertilised egg is then transferred into the womb at the right time, in the same way as it is with IVF.

Who Is ICSI For?

ICSI is often recommended for those affected by male infertility (sperm-related infertility). Sperm-related infertility includes, but is not limited to, low sperm count,  poor sperm motility or abnormal sperm shape.

ICSI might also be recommended to those with the following problems:

ICSI Risks

ICSI was introduced in 1992, making it a slightly more modern type of fertility treatment than IVF. Whilst many babies have been born using ICSI, it is not yet known if there are any long-term risks involved for children conceived by ICSI. Current known risks are the same as the IVF risks mentioned earlier in this guide.

The Main Difference Between IVF and ICSI

The main difference between IVF and ICSI involves the contact made between the sperm and the egg. With ICSI, each egg is injected with a single sperm. With IVF, the sperm naturally penetrates the egg.

How Are IVF and ICSI Similar?

ICSI is a form of IVF, meaning that the two treatments have a lot of similarities. Once both treatments have witnessed the sperm fertilise the eggs, the process remains the same for both types of treatment. The embryos are monitored in an incubator for up to five days, at which point the strongest embryos are replaced back into the womb.

What’s Best For You?

IVF is one of the most common and effective forms of fertility treatment, with over eight million babies born through IVF and counting! However, this treatment isn’t suitable for everyone, and your fertility specialist may recommend an alternative treatment based on your specific circumstances.

Simply put, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to fertility treatments. Each body works differently and therefore may require a different approach.

To Summarise

IVF and ICSI are both key types of fertility treatment that are responsible for thousands of pregnancies each year.  Although very similar treatments, ICSI involves injecting sperm into an egg, whereas this process happens naturally during IVF. For this reason, ICSI treatment is more tailored to those with issues relating to male infertility.

When it comes to deciding what form of fertility treatment is best for you, your fertility specialist should always guide you.. Here at Fertility Plus, we can talk you through your options and help to find the most suitable treatment for your situation.  You can contact us to book a consultation.

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