ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
If there is a question of the sperm's ability to fertilize the egg, due to either a low sperm count or poor quality of the sperm, that poses no problem whatsoever. Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) would be performed instead of regular In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). With ICSI, the eggs are retrieved the same as if you were doing conventional IVF. However, the eggs and the sperm are then fertilized in the laboratory, by direct injection of a single sperm into each egg. Three days later the resulting embryos are simply placed into your uterus with no surgery, just as with IVF. Extra embryos are frozen for later attempts at pregnancy.
The availability of this Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection, "ICSI" technique (which was developed and perfected by the Brussels University and our institution in St. Louis) means that men whose sperm previously were too weak or too few to fertilize in vitro (IVF), now have no problem fertilizing their wife's eggs. The fertilization rate per egg using ICSI is about 70% despite the sperm being terrible, the fertilization rate per infertile couple is over 99% if the wife has adequate eggs, and the pregnancy rate per treatment cycle is over 50%. This is not significantly different from regular IVF with normal sperm. This technique is very cost-effective, and will give you the same high chance for getting pregnant as any couple with normal sperm.
ICSI can only be carried out on a mature egg. Unfortunately egg maturity can only be truly identified under the microscope and it is, therefore, possible that following egg collection, none of the eggs are suitable for ICSI. This situation is normally rare, but it is still a possibility.