Know the difference between IVF and ICSI

Navigating through infertility can be a harrowing experience. The stress and anxiety of not being able to conceive, when you want to, coupled with the stress and anxiety that comes with the financial aspects of fertility treatments and the lack of surety of whether or not these rather expensive treatments will work, is definitely not an easy situation to deal with. When it comes to fertility treatments, two treatments that are very similar to each other, but differ in their approach (and their cost!) are IVF and ICSI.  

In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF is a process where good-quality eggs collected from the mother are mixed with the sperm collected from the father in a petri dish. The sperm moves on its own and fertilizes the egg within a day.  This fertilized egg, now known as an embryo, is allowed to develop for 3-5 days in an incubator before it is transferred directly into the uterus. This is also termed conventional IVF.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI  is a process in which good-quality eggs collected from the mother are placed in a petri dish. The eggs are then, using a very fine needle, injected with a single sperm. Since this sperm is directly injected into the cytoplasm of the cell, it facilitates fertilization. This embryo is then allowed to develop and once it reaches the required stage, it is transferred into the uterus.

The similarity between IVF and ICSI

The entire process, before and after fertilization is the same for both procedures. All of the steps in an IVF procedure, right from egg stimulation to the collection and then embryo development and its transfer remain the same in an ICSI procedure as well. ICSI is essentially an add-on to the standard IVF treatment and is considered to be a specialized form of IVF.

The difference between IVF and ICSI 

The difference between the two is in the main process of fertilization. In IVF, the sperm is allowed to naturally swim towards the egg and penetrate it in order to achieve fertilization. But in ICSI, a single sperm cell is injected directly into the egg, thereby bypassing the need for the sperm to have good motility/ morphology which is otherwise an essential feature of sperm cells in the process of natural conception

When is ICSI recommended?

ICSI is recommended in cases of severe male factor infertility where sperm function is compromised due to a variety of different reasons. Some of the reasons leading to the consideration of ICSI as an effective treatment include,

  • Asthenospermia- where the sperm is unable to swim through the female reproductive tract (or even when placed in a petri dish with the egg) and fertilize the egg by itself. 
  • Oligospermia- where the sperm count is way below average. 
  • Azoospermia- Where there is no sperm present in the ejaculate.
  • Abnormal sperm morphology- which hampers the ability of the sperm to move swiftly and efficiently, and
  • Presence of antibodies in the sperm- The underlying cause is immune system dysfunction, and as a result, it affects the normal functioning of the sperm.

Does ICSI have better Outcomes?

ICSI has been massively successful in cases with severe male factor infertility which has been hampering the success of fertility treatments such as IVF and IUI. Research has concluded that ICSI boosts the chances of success when there is the presence of severe issues in sperm function. However, multiple research papers have found that ICSI did not improve fertilization, implantation and clinical pregnancy rates in non-male factor patients. In fact, the success rates in terms of implantation and clinical pregnancy were found to be higher for couples undergoing the conventional IVF procedure when compared to non-male factor-related couples who underwent ICSI.


Both IVF and ICSI are the most widely accepted advanced fertility procedures available in the world. ICSI could be considered as an add-on to the conventional IVF procedure, especially in cases of severe male fertility issues. When it comes to finances, sometimes, ICSI could cost upto 10-15% more than a normal IVF. Hence, from the point of view of requiring an IVF vs ICSI, it is important to understand what would work better for you.

Take the assistance of Ferticare for choosing what treatment works best for you. We provide personalized care for your needs and explain the pros and cons of the different aspects with transparency.

Anyone can request a free appointment with one of our counsellors or visit our website right now at to find the fertility treatment best suited to you if you are having trouble getting pregnant.

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