Infertility is progressively becoming a common problem that affects couples across the globe; after many unsuccessful attempts, many are turning to IVF to assist them in conceiving.
In some infertility cases like unexplained infertility, for example, the IVF procedure is successful on the first attempt. Unfortunately, most cases involve other factors that affect a couple’s chance of conceiving, for example, at least 30-35% of infertility causes are due to the male factor. Over the last decade, advances in the field of assisted reproductive technology (ART) aim to boost conception rates. Fertility experts utilize techniques such as the intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and its variation called the intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm Injection (IMSI).
Male infertility is determined by analyzing a sperm sample. The sperm is tested for its motility, morphology, as well as quantity. Abnormal results in any of these parameters can cause fertility issues. Depending on the severity, doctors might recommend IUI (intra-uterine insemination) or IVF combined with ICSI treatment.
Unfortunately, the ICSI technique, during which the sperm is artificially introduces directly into the egg, is not as effective as one might hope and has a rather high miscarriage/abortion rates. Professor Benjamin Bartoov from Bar-Ilan University (Israel) has dedicated his life to studying the spermatozoid (male sperm cell). Prof. Bartoov developed the IMSI technique in 2002, which allows individual and precise selection of the healthiest sperm resulting in higher pregnancy rates and lower miscarriage rates compared to other fertility techniques.
What is IMSI?
The intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm Injection (IMSI) technique utilizes high-powered microscopy enhanced with digital imaging to analyze the ultrastructures of the sperm; the embryologist can then select optimum, high quality sperm, without any defects. The light microscope used for IMSI has a greater magnifying power of x6000-12000, comparing to conventional ICSI microscopy of x400, using a regular microscope. The difference in microscope power is clearly depicted:
The spermatologist can analyze the nucleus for structural deformities and for presence of vacuoles (small bubbles). Analyses of the sperm involves the observation of over one hundred morphological characteristics. Once spermatozoids are selected, the remainder of the process is identical to the regular ICSI procedure.
Indications for IMSI
The IMSI procedure is usually recommended in the following cases:
- Men who have elevated levels of DNA fragmentation
- Semen analysis indicated a high number of abnormal sperm
- The woman has suffered several miscarriages in the past
- The couple has undergone several unsuccessful IVF+ICSI treatments
- The embryos from previous IVF attempts have developed poorly
Advantages of IMSI method at HMC
- Comparative studies (ICSI vs. IMSI) indicate that the IMSI method doubled pregnancy rates and lowered abortion rate (by 60%) during the first trimester
- HMC’s IVF Center work closely with Prof. Bartoov and his laboratory - we are the only private clinic in Israel offering the IMSI method
- Prof. Bartoov established the IMSI technique and as such, he has more experience compared with any other fertility expert in this arena, optimizing your chances of a successful outcome
Professor Benjamin Bartoov – Developer of the IMSI method
Professor Bartoov has been running his male infertility laboratory at the Bar-Ilan University since 1980 – where he also lectured in the field of Life Sciences. Over the years, he developed the Intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm Injection and in the last decade has delivered this knowledge to fertility centers in Europe and America. He has been invited to lecture on the topic at prestigious international conferences and events. Prof. Bartoov’s research has been published in several scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.
Professor Bartoov explains why examining the sperm’s structure is more important than its motility:
“The sperm can have excellent motility and still contain an abnormal nucleus. If such a spermatozoid gets to the egg ahead of the others, the better sperm won’t be able to reach it. Fertilization with an abnormally structured sperm can end in an abortion or miscarriage. When the fertilization process occurs naturally, the woman’s body can “select” the healthy sperm on its own, but during IVF, this selection process is disturbed. Our IMSI method is similar to the natural selection process of the female body. Morphological deformities in the sperm cannot be detected during a regular semen analysis. This can lead to a situation where there is undiagnosed male infertility and the treatment plan given to the couple will not be effective.”
HMC’s IVF Center is a leader in fertility treatments in Israel offering couples the expertise of world-renowned specialists, advanced techniques (such as IMSI performed by Professor Dov Feldberg) and first class service of a personal Case Manager.