The Miracle of ICSI

Dawn Davenport


Video of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Just think about what is really happening here!?!? Unbelievable, common, and always a miracle.

I work in the world of miracles–both infertility treatment and adoption are miraculous at times. The plain truth, however, is when you are surrounded by the miraculous, sometimes you become blind to just how cool some of this stuff really is. I had one of those ah-ha moments on the show yesterday when listening to embryologist Scott Kratka.

The show was on What Happens in an Infertility Lab. Scott was describing the advancements in culture medium allowing embryos to grow undisturbed for up to 6+ days; how they can now safely take cells from a three or five day old embryos to test for genetic abnormalities; how something as mundane as the air quality in a lab can dramatically alter success rates. Any one of these things should have made me pause in wonder, but they didn’t. My epiphany came when Scott was talking about intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the treatment that has revolutionized the treatment of male infertility.

He described this now common procedure as follows. First they dissolve the outer hard cells surrounding the egg because the outer shell is otherwise too touch to penetrate. Then they put the sperm in a thick solution to slow them down enough to grab one. They capture one of those little suckers in a hollow needle, then poke the needle hard, but not too hard into the egg, and deposit the sperm. Seventy to eighty percent of the time the egg fertilizes and grows into an embryo.

Wow. I mean really and truly wow.

Check out this short video that show ICSI in action, and while you watch, remember what it is you are truly seeing.

The whole show on What Happens in an Infertility Lab was terrific. So often patients don’t think about what happens behind the closed embryology laboratory doors, but they should because it can make the difference between success or failure of your fertility treatment.


Has any aspect of the miracle that is fertility treatment caught you off guard recently?

30/01/2014 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 5 Comments

5 Responses to The Miracle of ICSI

  1. Avatar anon says:

    Our miracle is a product of IVF/PGD and therefore ICSI (so many acronyms!). Our lab biopsied a single cell from an embryo, hand escorted it on a plane across the country to the lab where it was analyzed and identified to have or not have two recessive cystic fibrosis genes. All within the timeframe of about 48 hours. Today we have an amazing (and CF free!) almost seven year old son. I was in awe of this process when we did it years ago, but you remended me again what an amazing feat this is. So true that we’re uncomfortable with the implications this has for abuse, corruption, etc, but our reality is our amazing son.

  2. Love this post it just shows how much of a miracle someone can be to another by allowing them the opportunity to become parents. Whether that person is who donated the embryos or the doctors who helps the process.

  3. Avatar MJ says:

    Love the title of this blog post-it is so true. ALL Assisted Reproductive Technology is a miracle of the best kind-a technology created for the purpose of helping to make the world a better place for those who need it to help build their families. Yes, I know there are ethical considerations that must be taken into account, but I don’t think we can ever forget that the purpose of these technologies is to help people who benefit from it overcome IF in a life giving way. In this way this technology is no different from other life-changing technologies that science has come up with (organ donation, etc)-where would the people who would benefit from these miraculous technologies be without them and the good hearted people who devote their lives to helping people in this way? ART is truly a miracle-born out of the innate desire of some in our world to help others to live better lives. Of course it can be done better, but it needs to keep its originating goal-helping those of us who are IF to overcome our disability. This is an honourable and admirable goal in my books, and it always will be!

    • MJ, a couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation at a church on almost exactly what you said. My presentation was titled “Ethical Issues at the Very Beginning of Life in the 21st Century.” I started off stressing that regardless of what they were going to hear about the ethical issues, they needed to keep in the forefront of their mind that these techniques have been life changing and life enriching for millions of people. Every time I watch that video it gives me goosebumps. I hope that in 9 months a child was born from that egg and sperm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Content created by Creating a Family. And remember, there are no guarantees in adoption or infertility treatment. The information provided or referenced on this website should be used only as part of an overall plan to help educate you about the joys and challenges of adopting a child or dealing with infertility. Although the following seems obvious, our attorney insists that we tell you specifically that the information provided on this site may not be appropriate or applicable to you, and despite our best efforts, it may contain errors or important omissions. You should rely only upon the professionals you employ to assist you directly with your individual circumstances. CREATING A FAMILY DOES NOT WARRANT THE INFORMATION OR MATERIALS contained or referenced on this website. CREATING A FAMILY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR ERRORS or omissions in this information and materials and PROVIDES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, implied, express or statutory. IN NO EVENT WILL CREATING A FAMILY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES, including without limitation direct or indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses or expenses arising out of or in connection with the use of the information or materials, EVEN IF CREATING A FAMILY OR ITS AGENTS ARE NEGLIGENT AND/OR ARE ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.