By Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 20:00 BST, 11 June 2019 | Updated: 20:00 BST, 11 June 2019
An IVF add-on treatment costing an extra £1,000 may be 'significantly' less effective than routine IVF for healthy men, a study has found.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure used when the man has reduced fertility, and works by injecting a single sperm into an egg in a lab.
Researchers discovered the procedure is becoming more common among couples in which the man has normal sperm, but it's actually less effective for them than IVF.
There were more only 62 per cent as many pregnancies if couples with healthy sperm used ICSI and only 13.2 per cent of cycles resulted in a live baby being born.
An IVF add-on called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which solo sperm are individually injected into eggs, has been found to have a lower pregnancy and live birth rate than standard IVF in couples where the man has normal sperm (stock image)
Experts at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne and Melbourne IVF, a private fertility company, did the research.
They studied fertilisation rates among couples using normal IVF – in which semen and eggs are mixed in a lab – and ICSI for a total of 3,363 cycles.
Clinics and couples are increasingly turning to ICSI in Australia and New Zealand, they said, which seemed to be at odds with what scientific evidence supports.
The researchers suggested the procedure may be less successful because weak, unsuitable sperm could be selected for injection.
'The growing use of ICSI in the presence of normal semen analysis has raised concern,' the researchers, led by Dr Genia Rozen at the women's hospital, said.
'Studies aimed at verifying the [effectiveness] of ICSI over IVF in this setting are inconsistent.'
In their study the researchers found the use of ICSI for men with normal sperm counts in all fertility treatments rose from 59.1 per cent in 2008 to 63 per cent in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.
Similar trends were seen in the US and some countries, including Italy,