Treatments & Options - ICSI - Resources

Gaining a better understanding of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) risks and how they may impact you and your family can help you make an informed decision on whether or not to pursue this fertility treatment. In this section, ICSI Resources, we discuss possible risks associated with the ICSI procedure.

Risks of ICSI
Potential issues that could arise during ICSI include:

  • Your eggs may become damaged.
  • The embryo might fail to grow after the fertilization.
  • ICSI can damage healthy eggs during the process.

Unfortunately, since ICSI is a relatively new procedure, there is little known about the long-term side effects of the treatment.

ICSI and birth defects
Studies show that ICSI and IVF lead to a similar percentage of birth defects as babies conceived naturally. The ICSI risk of having a baby with abnormalities is very minimal (less than 1 percent). Specific risks for birth defects with ICSI include:

  • Sex chromosome abnormalities
  • Hypospadias (a birth defect in boys where the urethra opening is underneath the penis rather than on the tip)
  • Angelman syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome

ICSI and multiples
Since ICSI takes place along with in vitro fertilization (IVF), there may be an increased risk of becoming pregnant with multiples. Couples that use IVF have a 30 to 35 percent risk of having twins and a 5 to 10 percent risk for triplets or more. Carrying multiples increases your chances of developing several complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Low amniotic fluid levels
  • Bed rest
  • Cesarean section or premature labor

When pregnant with multiples your babies are also at greater risk for complications, such as being born premature with low birth weight, or having difficulty breathing on their own due to immature lungs. They are also more susceptible to infections.

Yes, there are some risks, but there are also many benefits to using ICSI. If your partner has male factor infertility, your doctor may recommend ICSI with IVF to help you get pregnant. Ask your fertility specialist for more information about ICSI.