Fertility Answers - Helping Build Families

Sperm Extraction Techniques

Sperm extraction may be recommended for you if you have no sperm in the ejaculate.

There are many conditions in which you may not have sperm needed to build a family. In some of these cases, sperm extraction is recommended by our reproductive urologist to use in assisted reproduction.

Under ideal conditions, you produce sperm in your testicles that then leave your body during ejaculation. After production, your sperm normally reside in coiled tubes called the epididymis, one for each testis, until they’re needed for ejaculation. During ejaculation, your sperm travel through a second tube-like structure (vas deferens) and pass through the ejaculatory duct. Once there, they mix with fluids from the prostate and other glands to form semen. The semen then passes through the urethra and exits at the tip of the penis.

Common reasons for your male infertility often have to do with low sperm count or no sperm at all in the ejaculate. The absence of sperm, or azoospermia, may be caused by a blockage in the anatomy that’s preventing sperm from reaching the semen. An intentional example of this would be a vasectomy. This is a surgical procedure that blocks or cuts each vas deferens to prevent sperm from being in the ejaculated fluid.

Some men are born without a vas deferens on one or even both sides. This condition may be related to cystic fibrosis and can be a cause of infertility. Additionally, scar tissue or blockage in the vas deferens caused by trauma, past infections or inflammation can cause azoospermia.

Techniques used to extract sperm

After your initial male fertility workup, our reproductive urologist may recommend extracting sperm directly. During sperm extraction, also referred to as sperm retrieval, our reproductive urologist collects your sperm directly from the testicle and/or epididymis. Your sperm is then prepped and may be frozen for future use or used immediately during a fertility procedure, such as in vitro fertilization, IVF.

You can typically expect high success rates from sperm extraction for obtaining sperm that can be used in other assisted reproduction techniques, such as IVF. If you have issues with azoospermia, or no sperm in the ejaculate, our reproductive urologist may recommend one of these procedures to extract your sperm:

  • Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) – Surgical extraction of sperm from the epididymis for IVF
  • Testicular Epididymal Sperm Extraction (TESE) – Surgical extraction of sperm from the testicle for IVF
  • Testicular Microdissection (mTESE) – Microscopic surgical extraction of sperm from the testicle for IVF

Which sperm extraction method is right for you?

The sperm extraction method that best suits you depends on what’s causing your difficulty. Our reproductive urologist will perform a thorough physical evaluation on you before recommending your best course of action. We then work closely with you throughout the extraction process and continue to monitor your progress as necessary afterward.

Contact us to schedule a visit today with our reproductive urologist for answers regarding your male fertility issues.