Infertility – the inability to achieve conception or sustain a pregnancy through to live birth – is very common and affects about 15% of couples. While chromosomal or genetic abnormalities associated with azoospermia, severe oligozoospermia or primary ovarian failure were of no importance for reproduction prior to the era of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), advances in assisted reproductive techniques (ART) now enable many infertile couples to have children. These developments have raised the question of the genetic consequences of ICSI: concerns of the potential harm of the invasive procedure and concerns about the genetic risk. The infertile male and female definitely have an increased risk to carry a chromosomal abnormality. Detection of such an abnormality is of fundamental importance for the diagnosis of infertility, the following treatment, the evaluation of the risk for the future child and the appropriate management of the pregnancy to be obtained. Therefore, cytogenetic screening of both partners is mandatory prior to any type of ART. The present review is based on several surveys on male and female infertility and analyzes the types and frequencies of the different reported chromosome abnormalities according to the type of impairment of spermatogenesis and the type of treatment planned or performed. With regard to assisted reproductive techniques (especially ICSI) the main types of chromosomal abnormalities are discussed and their potential risks for ICSI. If available, reported cases of performed ICSI and its outcome are presented. The detection of an abnormal karyotype should lead to comprehensive genetic counselling, which should include all well-known information about the individual type of anomaly, its clinical relevance, its possible inheritance, the genetic risk of unbalanced offspring, and the possibilities of prenatal diagnosis. Only this proceeding allows at-risk couples to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to proceed with ART. These decisions can be made only when both partners have clearly understood the genetic risks and possible consequences when ART is used.   

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