I know that not being able to have children is devastating for couples who learn they are unable to conceive on their own. The good news is that there are so many different fertility options, that most couples can find some option that works for them. However, this can come with risks, and one risk can be birth defects if couples choose to have intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI).

In South Australia, a census was done to see if different fertility treatments had any adverse effects on the children. The census found that it did not have any negative effects on the children, but intracytoplasmic sperm injections increased the risk of birth defects after multivariate adjustment. intracytoplasmic sperm injections are used to treat sperm-related infertility problems and the process involves a single sperm being injected into a mature egg. Then, the egg is placed in the woman’s fallopian tubes or uterus. Doctors recommend that genetic testing should be done prior to the procedure, but the risk still remains.

Usually, intracytoplasmic sperm injections are used to treat severe male infertility, and the procedure is often used when in vitro fertilization fails. The procedure can also be used if the sperm is having a difficult time penetrating the egg. The study that was conducted examined the use of fresh and frozen embryo cycles. It was found that both fresh and frozen embryo cycles used in in vitro fertilization showed no increased risk of defects, but both fresh and frozen embryo cycles used in intracytoplasmic sperm injections showed an increased risk of birth defects. The study also showed other fertility treatments that could increase the risk of birth defects, but none of the ranked as high as intracytoplasmic sperm injections. The only other treatment that could be mentioned as a higher risk than other fertility solutions is clomiphene citrate used at home. However, the main troubles with this treatment more often include miscarriage and multiple births.

No fertility treatment is guaranteed to work, and the end goal of fertility treatments should never be to conceive regardless of the costs. Couples need to carefully consider their options before deciding to seek fertility help. Remember to talk with your doctor to get the most information possible because it’s not just you and your spouse that will be affected by fertility treatments. Your future unborn child could also be affected by the choices you make.

 

  • Davies, M. J., Moore, V. M., Willson, K. J., Essen, P. V., Priest, K., Scott, H., et al. (2012). Reproductive technologies and the risk of birth defects. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(19), 1803-1813.
  • Marshall, S., & Olatunbosun, F. (2010, April 19). Intracytoplasmic sperm injection for infertility. WebMD.