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What Is ICSI Treatment and How Is It Different From IVF?

ICSI is for couples who experience problems with male fertility


Infertility is a health problem that afflicts men and women equally. Of the diagnosed cases of infertility, 50 percent of couples have female factor infertility, 50 percent male factor infertility, and in 28 percent both the man and woman have medical conditions that affect their fertility.


When a couple seeking Assisted Reproduction Technique (ART) intervention is diagnosed with male factor infertility, the fertility specialist will recommend an additional procedure, aside from In-Vitro Fertilisation, to circumvent the problem in the man. This procedure is ICSI.


What is ICSI?


ICSI – the acronym meaning IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection – is a procedure that is often done together with IVF. Confused patients often ask “What is the difference between ICSI and IVF?” BUT, these two treatments are exactly the same, EXCEPT for the method by which fertilisation is achieved.


In conventional IVF, the harvested eggs and sperm are mixed together in a Petri dish and incubated for a number of days. It is expected that the sperm will fertilise the eggs to produce embryos. However, this is assuming that the sperm are normal and active.


In ICSI, the egg is fertilised through the direct injection of a single sperm with the use of a fine needle. This makes ICSI the best procedure for patients with male factor infertility.


Indications for ICSI


ICSI is the recommended procedure in the following conditions:


  • Sperm concentration or count is less than 15 to 20 million per millilitre
  • Poor sperm motility
  • Abnormalities in the morphology or shape of the sperm
  • Physical blockage that prevents the release of the sperm
  • Previous IVF cycle has zero or low fertilisation rate
  • Couples with low egg yield during the egg retrieval process
  • Presence of severe male factor infertility but the couple does not want to use donor sperm



IVF Procedure with ICSI



Conventional IVF Procedure



The Pros and Cons of ICSI


ICSI has its respective advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed thoroughly by the fertility specialist during consultations.


The biggest advantage of ICSI is that it circumvents the poor sperm count, motility and morphology that are characteristic of male factor infertility by directly injecting the sperm into the egg. ICSI is also helpful in patients who have had irreversible vasectomy or are paralysed. It also greatly improves the chances of conception taking place in couples who have failed in the conventional IVF treatment alone.


ICSI, however, comes with some possible disadvantages, which may include the following.


  • Damage to the embryos
  • Birth defects, with the most common defects noted in the male genitalia (for example, hypospadias)

In general, assisted reproductive treatment may also increase the possibility of multiple births, i.e. having twins or triplets.


How Much Does the ICSI Procedure Cost?


ICSI is not being billed as a separate procedure from IVF. Instead, it is factored into the laboratory charges in the overall IVF cost.


Thankfully, the government of Singapore, together with the Ministry of Health has an ongoing program to boost the fertility and birth rates in the country.


In the first available subsidy, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are planning to undergo Assisted Reproduction treatments like IVF with ICSI can obtain financial support from Medisave.


Treatment CycleMedisave Withdrawal Allowed
FirstUp to S$6,000
Lifetime withdrawal limit of S$15,000 per patient for IVF and other Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments
SecondUp to S$5,000
Third and SubsequentUp to S$4,000

If you and your spouse have been unsuccessful in conceiving a child after one year of trying, it is vital that an immediate consultation be made with a fertility specialist in order to determine the cause of infertility. With the right diagnosis of male factor infertility, the specialist will recommend the appropriate treatment to help you on the path to parenthood.


Here at Sincere IVF Center, our mission is to provide you with the relevant knowledge, leading edge technologies and the latest medical advancements in fertility treatment to maximise your chances of pregnancy.


Contact us today for a personal consultation or simply come talk to us if you have any questions and concerns. You can email us at or call us at +65 6507 0766 during office hours.



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