Surgical Sperm Retrieval


Surgical sperm retrieval is a procedure used for the treatment of severe male factor infertility, which can be associated with ICSI.

Male infertility usually presents with low sperm number, poor sperm swimming ability or with no sperm at all in the ejaculate (azoospermia). However, while some men have azoospermia because they do not produce sperm, other men produce the sperm in the testicles, but have a blockage which prevents the sperm from being ejaculated.

Surgical sperm retrieval uses several different surgical techniques to retrieve the sperm when available. The four most common techniques, called TESA, TESE, PESA, MESA are performed under local anaesthesia and consist of the collection of sperm either through needle aspiration or through the removal of a small amount of tissue which contains sperm. However, the sperm retrieved using these methods are not able to fertilize the eggs without help since they are collected at an early stage of maturation.

Following surgical sperm retrieval, ICSI is always utilized to allow fertilization. Since the synchronization of male and female partners in cycles involving Surgical Sperm Retrieval and ICSI is needed, sperm are often frozen to allow more flexibility. Frozen sperm can also be used for possible, subsequent treatments.

Surgical Sperm Retrieval is indicated in the following cases:

  • When vasectomy reversal does not work
  • When vasectomy reversal is not the patient’s choice
  • Mechanical block due to scarring within the male genital tract
  • The absence of the tubes connecting the epidydimis to the penis
  • Ejaculation dysfunction or complete failure to ejaculate which cannot be treated otherwise

Discomfort or pain may be experienced during or after these procedures. Complications are rare but can include possible bleeding or infections.

For more information on The Fertility Clinic protocols, please take a look at our “Protocols and Procedures” in the “Patient Information” section.