Fertilization problems are the major problems that may be faced in 30-55% of the patients during an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cycle. A successful oocyte activation depends on factors related to both sperm and oocyte, and one of the important factors that mediates the process is Ca2+ concentration within the oocyte. Artificial oocyte activation (AOA) is a method used for fertilization problems that commonly involve the usage of Ca2+ ionophores and is usually used in problems such as total fertilization failure (TFF) and globozoospermia.
In order for an egg to allow a sperm to fertilise it and start developing into an embryo, it first has to be activated. In some women with previously unexpected failed fertilisation, even when advanced techniques such as ICSI are used, the eggs may be stimulated in subsequent cycles to activate by using chemicals called calcium ionophores.
These chemicals can be added to the embryo in the lab.
In the few studies done to date, egg activation using calcium ionophores may improve fertilisation rates in ICSI cycles where the egg and sperm have failed to activate in previous treatment cycles.