open menu
Review Us

Conventional IVF Insemination vs. ICSI: Which IVF Method Should You Choose?

IVF Insemination vs. ICSI
Deciding to try IVF insemination in Ontario is a big step, but it also has the potential to be a very rewarding step in your journey to conceive. Many couples in Canada turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) when they are experiencing fertility issues. There are two types of IVF treatments: conventional IVF insemination or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). How do you know which method is the best method for you and your partner, and how do the results and side effects differ? If you’re considering either method to help with your fertility struggles, here’s what you need to know about IVF vs. ICSI in Ontario.

What Is Conventional IVF Insemination?

Conventional IVF insemination is the process in which eggs are removed from the ovary and then surrounded by sperm in a petri-dish in a laboratory. The goal is to have one sperm—usually considered the “best” sperm—fertilize each egg on its own, similar to the process of natural conception. Once fertilized, the eggs grow and divide within themselves for three to five days, before they are implanted into the uterus.

What Is Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection?

Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is a procedure in which a single sperm from a man’s semen sample is manually injected directly into the center of an egg to increase the chance of fertilization. Rather than the sperm fertilizing the egg on its own, with ICSI, an embryologist will identify the superior sperm and directly inject it into the egg. Once fertilized, the eggs will grow and divide within themselves for three to five days, much like conventional IVF. Then the eggs are implanted into the woman’s uterus to establish pregnancy.

What Are the Differences Between Conventional IVF and ICSI?

Both ICSI and conventional IVF insemination are subtypes of IVF. It’s important to note that regardless of whether you choose conventional IVF or ICSI, the ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval process is the same. The main difference lies in how the egg is fertilized. There are also a few other differences between IVF vs. ICSI that are worth noting:

Female Infertility vs. Male Infertility

Traditionally, conventional IVF insemination was developed as a way to bypass female fertility problems, such as blockages in the fallopian tubes or endometriosis, or to use when previous artificial insemination cycles were not successful. ICSI, however, was established as a way to help a man with a low sperm count or immotile sperm still impregnate his partner, since the “best” sperm is automatically selected by the embryologist. Couples who have been diagnosed with male factor infertility are great candidates for this procedure.

Percentage of Eggs Fertilized

Fertilization is never guaranteed. With conventional IVF insemination in Ontario, usually abut 50% of retrieved eggs are successfully fertilized. Meanwhile, with intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, between 50% and 80% of eggs are fertilized. The reason for this is that the sperm is manually injected into the egg with ICSI; meanwhile with conventional IVF, the sperm must try to penetrate the egg itself, making it a little harder for fertilization to occur. After the eggs are fertilized, however, the success rates for both procedures are the same. Also, in both cases, the success rate is highly dependent on the embryologist.


In Ontario, there is government funding available for IVF insemination. Usually, the funding covers one IVF cycle per eligible patient per lifetime. Most diagnostics tests are covered by OHIP. ICSI in Ontario is considered an additional procedure above and beyond conventional IVF. Because of this, there is usually an additional cost of $1,500 or more that may not be covered by your insurance provider.


Both IVF insemination and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection are considered safe procedures; however, like all fertility treatments, there are some risks and side effects to consider. With both procedures, there is a risk of multiple pregnancies, ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, or miscarriage. With conventional IVF, there is also the risk that none of the retrieved eggs will be fertilized. Total fertilization failure (TTF) occurs in approximately 10% to 15% of cases. This rarely happens with ICSI. With ICSI, there is a higher chance that eggs will be damaged in the fertilization process (this happens to about 5% to 15% of retrieved eggs). There is also a slightly increased risk of birth defects, urogenital issues, and ADHD in ICSI-conceived babies compared to conventional IVF insemination. ICSI can also only be performed on “mature eggs,” which rules out about 20% of retrieved eggs.

Which Method Should You Choose?

The success rates of IVF vs. ICSI are highly dependent on the embryologist, the egg and sperm quality, and the overall health of both partners. That said, one method is not better than the other and both IVF insemination and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection can produce equal results. Deciding whether to use IVF vs. ICSI depends on the specifics of each individual case and the reasons for infertility in one or both partners. In cases where there are limited eggs, ICIS may be the better option, because it increases the chances of fertilization by selecting the superior sperm. ICSI is also preferred in cases where there is male infertility. Your embryologist may also recommend intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection in cases where previous IVF cycles produced few or no fertilized eggs; when frozen sperm is thawed and doesn’t appear active; or when the egg’s outer shell has hardened due to vitrification (part of the egg freezing procedure). In cases where donor eggs or donor sperm are used, however, ICSI isn’t necessary, because the quality of both samples is generally high.

Insemination Services at ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo

At ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo, our goal is to provide our patients with the best medical care and to support their needs as they embark on their fertility journey. We want to end the stigma surrounding IVF insemination in Ontario and help our patients understand their treatment plan throughout the entire process. We’ll take the time to explain the difference between IVF vs. ICSI and come up with a customized treatment option that suits your needs and comfort level. To learn more about our state-of-the-art fertility clinic, as well as our IVF insemination and ICSI treatment options, give us a call or send us an email and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our fertility services.


4271 King St East, Suite 200
Kitchener, ON
N2P 2X7

Working Hours

Monday-Friday: 7am-3pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8am-12pm

Contact Us

Phone: 519.650.0011
Fax: 519.650.0033