An expensive IVF technique, routinely offered in fertility clinics around the world, offers no extra benefits to standard IVF in the vast majority of cases, our new research shows.
The technique, known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI, was developed to help couples where the man has a low sperm count. But it is now the main fertilisation method clinics use in Australia and New Zealand, even when sperm counts are normal.
In an article published today in The Lancet we show that when there’s a normal sperm count, ICSI does not improve the chance of a baby when compared with standard IVF. So why do clinics routinely offer it?
What is ICSI?
In IVF, several thousand sperm compete to be the one to fertilise an egg. However, for the small percentage of couples with what doctors call severe male-factor infertility — for instance, where there is a very low sperm count or the sperm doesn’t look or move normally — IVF is not an option.