Successful male infertility treatment does not lower fertility of sons

Jan 2018

The most common procedure for treating infertility in men does not adversely affect the fertility of their sons, according to a review published in the journal Reproduction. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the most effective and successful treatment for male infertility and this review reports that there is no clear evidence for any adverse effects on the fertility of boys conceived using the procedure.


ICSI is the most successful in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure for treating male infertility and has been in use for 25 years. The technique requires only a single sperm for injection into an egg, whereas classical IVF needs thousands, so it is ideal for male infertility cases involving poor functioning sperm. This special issue of Reproduction, includes a review examining the risk of impaired fertility in boys conceived using this method. The review assesses studies that investigated sperm production, sperm function and genetics of boys conceived using ICSI, and reports that there are no additional risks of impaired fertility in their sons related exclusively to the use of this technique. Although some semen parameters are slightly lower in boys conceived through ICSI, they are within normal ranges and may be caused by other factors, such as the age of the parents undergoing IVF or inheritance of the cause of male infertility from their fathers.

This is good news for couples struggling to conceive due to male fertility problems, as guest editor of the special issue Prof Gianpiero Palermo, Weill Cornell Medicine comments, “It is important to consider that for severe male infertility, there is no alternative to ICSI, unless a sperm donor or adoption are opted for instead.”

In this special issue of Reproduction, celebrating the 25th anniversary of ICSI, future applications of this technique for more sophisticated methods to treat infertility are also explored. ICSI is a powerful method that has already paved the way for the development of new treatments for men with currently untreatable infertility, including the ability to use immature sperm.

Prof Palermo cautions, “Careful follow-up of children’s health is always advised and should be carried out when any form of assisted reproductive technology is used, not just for ICSI.”



The introductory editorial and video for this special issue of Reproduction were published in December 2017.

Reproduction is published by Bioscientifica, an innovative and agile publisher. Bioscientifica collaborates with learned societies worldwide to develop new and existing quality products that meet the ever-changing needs of the biomedical community. Our publishing portfolio includes journals and online resources, including Journal of Endocrinology, Endocrine-Related Cancer, Endocrine Connections, Bone Abstracts and Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Case Reports. Bioscientifica is a wholly-owned commercial subsidiary of the Society for Endocrinology.