Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: An advanced technique for assisted fertilization

If fertility issues have prevented you from having children, consider UW Health's team of experts at Generations fertility care. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is just one way that we can help improve your chances of building a family.


An advanced technique for assisted fertilization

If you choose in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, your doctor may recommend an intracytoplasmic sperm injection to fertilize the egg. We often provide these two treatments together to help you get pregnant.


What is intracytoplasmic sperm injection?

To fertilize an egg, a sperm must enter the egg. The head of the sperm attaches to the outside of the egg. The sperm then moves into the egg's center or cytoplasm. When sperm cannot break into the egg, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may help.

You can expect a fertilization success rate with ICSI of about 75 percent. This is similar to the success rate for IVF.

While the ICSI procedure provides a good success rate, it does come with some risk. An egg fertilized in this way may not develop into a viable embryo.

How can ICSI help you?

Your infertility specialist may recommend ICSI as part of your IVF cycle for several reasons, including:

  • A failed IVF cycle using conventional fertilization 

  • Sperm obtained through surgical means

  • If a male partner has:

    • A high percentage of incorrectly shaped sperm 

    • A low sperm count

    • High rates of sperm DNA fragmentation 

    • Low sperm motility 

Checking eggs, sperm and embryos

Your fertility team looks at every factor of your fertility to decide if ICSI can help you get pregnant.

After an egg is fertilized with ICSI, your embryologist watches the embryo grow. The healthiest embryos are chosen for the embryo transfer or can be frozen for future use.

Treatment process

How we use ICSI to fertilize an egg

Your fertility care team explains every step in the ICSI process. Your eggs and sperm are collected before the procedure takes place. 

During the ICSI procedure, your embryologist injects a single sperm into a mature egg.

Here’s how it happens:

  • The doctor uses a fine needle with a tip slightly larger than the size of the sperm head

  • The embryologist gently pushes the needle through the egg's shell and into the cytoplasm in the egg’s center

  • The sperm is placed inside the egg

  • The needle is carefully removed

  • The egg with the sperm sits in a culture medium where the fertilization process continues

  • The fertilized egg divides and becomes an embryo

Our team

We are here to help you create a family

The fertility team at UW Health’s Generations Fertility Care includes doctors, nurses and lab specialists who are experts in embryology, fertility and reproduction.


Fertility care close to home