Since each couple is unique in the cause of infertility, the answer as to whether ICSI or conventional IVF is more beneficial could vary. A retrospective cohort study published in 2015 is the most comprehensive study so far comparing the two strategies with different infertility factors, which will be the focus here1. A few other smaller-scale studies will also be discussed.
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.

The main cause of male infertility is low semen quality. In men who have the necessary reproductive organs to procreate, infertility can be caused by low sperm count due to endocrine problems, drugs, radiation, or infection. There may be testicular malformations, hormone imbalance, or blockage of the man's duct system. Although many of these can be treated through surgery or hormonal substitutions, some may be indefinite.[57] Infertility associated with viable, but immotile sperm may be caused by primary ciliary dyskinesia. The sperm must provide the zygote with DNA, centrioles, and activation factor for the embryo to develop. A defect in any of these sperm structures may result in infertility that will not be detected by semen analysis.[58] Antisperm antibodies cause immune infertility.[23][24] Cystic fibrosis can lead to infertility in men.
With the exception of severe male infertility, 70% of the oocytes will become fertilized. In the case of severe male infertility, ICSI (pronounced ick-see) may be used to fertilize the eggs, instead of simply placing them in a culture dish. With ICSI, the embryologist will choose a healthy-looking sperm and inseminate the oocyte with the sperm using a special thin needle.
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández
In IVF, a woman is given more medications to develop lots of eggs. Ideally, they develop around 15 mature eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovaries, fertilized and developed in a lab for a number of days, and subsequently put back into the uterus as an early-stage embryo. While this may sound like a relatively minor difference, it leads to leads to a large number of noteworthy differences.
Ovarian hyperstimulation also includes suppression of spontaneous ovulation, for which two main methods are available: Using a (usually longer) GnRH agonist protocol or a (usually shorter) GnRH antagonist protocol.[60] In a standard long GnRH agonist protocol the day when hyperstimulation treatment is started and the expected day of later oocyte retrieval can be chosen to conform to personal choice, while in a GnRH antagonist protocol it must be adapted to the spontaneous onset of the previous menstruation. On the other hand, the GnRH antagonist protocol has a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a life-threatening complication.[60]
I conceived my first child, a son, with no trouble at all. When he was two, we thought we might have another. A year or so later, when nothing had happened, we saw a fertility specialist, who gave us every test there was. We passed each one, as the consultant put it, "with flying colours". Which left us relieved but also confounded. All I had was a new adjective to add to my diagnosis: Unexplained Secondary Infertility.

Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality and the mechanics of the woman's reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring), a course of ovulation induction maybe used. The physician or WHNP may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap, which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor or WHNP introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.


IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy. A fertilised egg may be implanted into a surrogate's uterus, and the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate. Some countries have banned or otherwise regulate the availability of IVF treatment, giving rise to fertility tourism. Restrictions on the availability of IVF include costs and age, in order for a woman to carry a healthy pregnancy to term. IVF is generally not used until less invasive or expensive options have failed or been determined unlikely to work.
We don't know what causes most cases of secondary infertility, says Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., program director of the New York University Fertility Center, in New York City. "The majority of the time, though, it reflects the fact that you're older now, so it's simply more difficult to get pregnant." The reality is that for women, fertility peaks at age 25 and drops by half between ages 30 and 40. As we age, egg quality declines and we're more likely to develop fibroids and endometriosis, which contribute to infertility. Other factors such as adding extra weight, taking new meds, or having surgery since your last pregnancy can be an issue. It may also be that your partner's sperm quality or production is now poor.
Certain kinds of IVF, in particular ICSI (first applied in 1991) and blastocyst transfer (first applied in 1984) have been shown to lead to distortions in the sex ratio at birth. ICSI leads to slightly more female births (51.3% female) while blastocyst transfer leads to significantly more boys (56.1% male) being born. Standard IVF done at the second or third day leads to a normal sex ratio.

In the United States, women seeking to be an embryo recipient undergo infectious disease screening required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and reproductive tests to determine the best placement location and cycle timing before the actual Embryo Transfer occurs. The amount of screening the embryo has already undergone is largely dependent on the genetic parents' own IVF clinic and process. The embryo recipient may elect to have her own embryologist conduct further testing.

Obviously, if the same couple decides to have more children at age 38, the chances won't be 25% anymore; it is likely that they are about 10%, which translates into a reduced pregnancy chance. This does not mean the couple has become infertile. Since they weren't absolutely fertile at age 32, it is only logical that their pregnancy chances at 38 are so low.

Deciding whether to undergo in vitro fertilization, and how to try if the first attempt is unsuccessful, is an incredibly complicated decision. The financial, physical, and emotional toll of this process can be difficult. Speak with your doctor extensively to determine what your best options are and if in vitro fertilization is the right path for you and your family. Seek a support group or counselor to help you and your partner through this process.
^ Tersigni C, Castellani R, de Waure C, Fattorossi A, De Spirito M, Gasbarrini A, Scambia G, Di Simone N (2014). "Celiac disease and reproductive disorders: meta-analysis of epidemiologic associations and potential pathogenic mechanisms". Hum. Reprod. Update. 20 (4): 582–93. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmu007. PMID 24619876. Physicians should investigate women with unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage or IUGR for undiagnosed CD. (...) CD can present with several non-gastrointestinal symptoms and it may escape timely recognition. Thus, given the heterogeneity of clinical presentation, many atypical cases of CD go undiagnosed, leading to a risk of long-term complications. Among atypical symptoms of CD, disorders of fertility, such as delayed menarche, early menopause, amenorrhea or infertility, and pregnancy complications, such as recurrent abortions, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), small for gestational age (SGA) babies, low birthweight (LBW) babies or preterm deliveries, must be factored. (...) However, the risk is significantly reduced by a gluten-free diet. These patients should therefore be made aware of the potential negative effects of active CD also in terms of reproductive performances, and of the importance of a strict diet to ameliorate their health condition and reproductive health.
Fertility has long been considered a “woman’s problem.” This is simply not true, and men are in fact, equally as infertile as women. Traditionally the metrics for male fertility have been mostly limited to sperm count, morphology, motility, and, occasionally, DNA fragmentation. For females, on the other hand, a vast array of tests are available. These include ultrasound, cervical position, basal body temperature, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, cycle tracking and a diversity of hormonal tests.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs in 10% of women going through IVF treatment. For most women, symptoms will be mild, and they will recover easily. For a small percentage, OHSS can be more serious and may require hospitalization. Less than 1% of women going through egg retrieval will experience blood clots or kidney failure due to OHSS.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after you’ve already had a baby, and it's more common than you might think, accounting for about 50 percent of infertility cases. In fact, more couples experience secondary infertility than primary infertility (infertility the first time around). It’s especially common in women who wait until their late 30s or even 40s, when fertility takes a nosedive, to have their second babies.
In the US, up to 20% of infertile couples have unexplained infertility. In these cases abnormalities are likely to be present but not detected by current methods. Possible problems could be that the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization, that it may not enter the fallopian tube, sperm may not be able to reach the egg, fertilization may fail to occur, transport of the zygote may be disturbed, or implantation fails. It is increasingly recognized that egg quality is of critical importance and women of advanced maternal age have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization. Also, polymorphisms in folate pathway genes could be one reason for fertility complications in some women with unexplained infertility.[59] However, a growing body of evidence suggests that epigenetic modifications in sperm may be partially responsible.[60][61]
Antiphospholipid syndrome (phospholipid antibody syndrome or Hughes syndrome) is an immune system disorder with symptoms that include: excessive blood clotting, miscarriages unexplained fetal death, or premature birth. In antiphospholipid syndrome, these symptoms are accompanied by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (cardiolipin or lupus anticoagulant antibodies) in the blood. Treatment focuses on preventing clotting by thinning the blood with the use of anticoagulants and aspirin.
Other health related problems could also cause poor egg health, low ovarian reserve, or abnormal immunological responses, which can affect conception. Stress could also play a role. We all know that menstrual cycles can be altered during times of extreme duress- and this can be emotional, physical, or environmental stressors. In these instances, the first steps should be to avoid life stressors, maintain a healthy weight, routinely exercise, avoid smoking, and reduce alcohol intake, all of which may be contributing to unexplained infertility issues.
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