A small study released today (6 Oct 2016) reports that boys born from ICSI treatment have poorer sperm quality than boys conceived naturally. Since ICSI was first introduced as a fertility treatment over 25 years ago, scientists have been aware that boys born as a result of ICSI may have fertility problems themselves. This has been a possibility that fertility clinics have highlighted to couples undergoing ICSI and counselling and advice are available to couples to help them understand the potential consequences. Counselling is now more important than ever, as this study confirms scientists’ theories.
As Professor Sheena Lewis points out, no robust conclusions can be drawn as this study was conducted on a very small group of fathers and sons (54) and did not look at all the parameters of male fertility. Future studies should include measures of sperm DNA quality as well. If you are considering ICSI treatment, it’s vital to be aware of, consider and be prepared for the short and long term effects of ICSI. There is still much research to be done in order to state if and how exactly men pass on fertility problems to their sons.
If you require support for ICSI treatment, please see below a number of useful organisations: