Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the process where sperm is injected directly into an egg to fertilize it in an IVF procedure.


In natural conception and traditional IVF, sperm swim to the egg, attach to the egg's shell, and push through the shell to get inside the egg. Once inside, the sperm's DNA mixes with the female's DNA to create an embryo. This is the process of fertilization. In some cases, the sperm cannot penetrate the egg's shell, so ICSI is required to help the sperm get into the egg.

When to Consider ICSI

ICSI is recommended if the male partner has:


  • Low sperm count.
  • Many abnormally shaped sperm. If the sperm have an abnormal shape (morphology), they cannot fertilize an egg.
  • Sperm that is taken directly from the testicles.
  • Previous traditional IVF that yielded a low fertilization rate.


ICSI can also be used to treat unexplained infertility. In couples with unexplained infertility, the explanation may lie in the sperm's inability to fertilize an egg. ICSI is also used when testing for single gene diseases is planned (PGD).

What to Expect During Treatment

The procedures that you will experience with ICSI are exactly the same as IVF. The only difference is that on the day of the egg retrieval, our highly trained embryologist will inject a single sperm into each mature egg.


In cases where a man has significantly abnormal sperm parameters, prior to beginning treatment we suggest freezing a sperm sample for possible future use. In some cases, the sperm quality can deteriorate significantly over a short time, so having a backup frozen sample stored in the lab will ensure that an adequate specimen is available on the day of egg retrieval.

How Successful Is It?

ICSI is successful in fertilizing 60%-80% of eggs.

What Are My Next Steps?

If you have not already done so, have a discussion with your Olive Fertility Centre physician. Your patient care coordinator will arrange for a teaching session with nursing team for a detailed overview. Genetic counselors are also available for additional discussions if necessary.

Inclusion of all gender and sexually diverse people is an important value of Olive Fertility Centre. We are continuously striving to create an environment of compassionate belonging where all of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are supported, valued and respected.

Olive Fertility Centre resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Tsleil-waututh Nations (Vancouver and Surrey clinics), of the Lekwungen people (Victoria clinic), of the syilx/Okanagan people (Kelowna clinic) and of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (Blossom Fertility clinic in Prince George).

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