Of all infertility cases, between 40 and 50 percent are due to male factor infertility. This means that a couple is unable to conceive fully or partially due to a male-related issue. If a couple is found to be suffering from infertility because of a low sperm count or poor sperm function, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine (IUI) may be successful in reaching conception.

With IUI, a woman will be required to take fertility drugs to help stimulate multiple egg development within a single cycle. This treatment is most useful when there is found to be mild abnormalities in the male’s sperm count. However, if a man is found to have very low sperm count or poor sperm mobility, IVF is generally the best treatment option.

Treating male infertility has become easier in recent years with the introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a lab technique that involves the direct injection of sperm into eggs obtained from IVF. This technique can even be successful when the male has no sperm in his ejaculated sample. In this case, sperm can be extracted from the male’s epididymis or testicle.

During ICSI, a special glass needle is used to inject sperm into the center of the egg using a microscope. The overall success rate of this procedure is highly based on the IVF program used and the skill of the embryologist who is performing the treatment.

Best Candidates for ICSI

The top candidates for ICSI include men who have compromised sperm parameters such as mobility, concentration, or anti-sperm antibodies, absence or blockage of the vans deferens, or those with low or failed fertilization during prior IVF attempts.

The procedure can also be successful when there are unknown causes of infertility following the completion of diagnostic tests. Studies have shown that IVF pregnancy rates using ICSI are equivalent to those of couples who have non-male factor fertility.