Sperm Retrieval Techniques For Men With Fertility Problems
A lack of sperm in men’s ejaculate or an inability to ejaculate can make getting pregnant difficult for couples. When sperm isn’t readily available, sperm can be retrieved from the other parts of the reproductive tract, including the testis or epididymis. Fertility specialists use a variety of advanced and minimally invasive surgical techniques depending on the fertility issue.
Microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (microTESE)
MicroTESE involves micro dissecting the testicle to find tubes or other parts of the reproductive tract where sperm may be present. MicroTESE is performed one day before the partner’s egg retrieval procedure during in vitro fertilization (IVF). Couples can cryopreserve the sperm to use for future IVF cycles.
Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
TESE is a type of microTESE surgery involving the removal of testicular tissue to retrieve sperm. TESE is not used on men with non-obstructive azoospermia because TESE does not search all areas of the testicle to find sperm.
Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA)
TESA involves inserting a needle in the testicle to aspirate sperm for diagnosis or freezing. Compared to other sperm retrieval procedures, TESA is more affordable and quicker in terms of procedure and recovery time. Open testicular surgery can require about a week of recovery time.
Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)
PESA is performed on men who have obstructive azoospermia from a previous vasectomy or infection. PESA involves inserting a small needle into the epididymis to retrieve sperm. PESA, however, can recover the least amount of sperm compared to other techniques.
Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
MESA removes sperm from the epididymis tubes. MESA procedures can retrieve a large number of sperm compared to aspiration techniques. Extracted sperm can be frozen for later use or used to help fertilize an egg for IVF.
Recovering from sperm retrieval procedures
Recovery times vary based on the testicular or epididymal sperm techniques used. Recovery time can range from a day to a week. During recovery, men are advised to avoid strenuous activity. A jockstrap can help support the affected area. Ice and medicine can help with the pain. Procedures involving stitches can take longer to heal.
What to do when no sperm are found?
Sperm retrieval procedures can fail to find sperm in some cases. While an initial failure can be disheartening, couples can discuss other treatment methods that can be used to start a family. Using donor sperm can overcome azoospermia. If donor sperm isn’t an option, adopting a child can be a great way to start a family. For more information about fertility treatment options, speak with a fertility specialist.