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Surgical sperm retrieval at TFP Fertility

Surgical sperm retrieval may be recommended when there is no sperm or very few sperm in the semen, or where there are complications with a natural semen delivery.

Want to know if this is for you? You can talk to one of our fertility experts.

Lab procedure after the surgical sperm retrieval

What is surgical sperm retrieval?

This simple procedure collects sperm from the testicles, with the hope of overcoming problems with sperm or ejaculation.

We then carefully freeze the sperm, which is then used in a fertility treatment called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

At TFP Fertility UK, we use two sperm retrieval processes:

  • PESA (percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration) collects sperm directly from a long-coiled tube called the epididymis within the testicle.

  • TESE (testicular sperm extraction) collects sperm from a sample of testicular tissue.

When is surgical sperm retrieval recommended?

Surgical sperm retrieval may be recommended for the following reasons:

1) You have no sperm in your semen due to a blockage (obstructive azoospermia)

This may be because:

  • You’ve had a vasectomy

  • You’ve had an infection

  • You've had a testicular injury

2) You have no sperm in your semen because of an issue with sperm production (non-obstructive azoospermia)

This may be because:

  • You’ve had treatment that’s affected your fertility, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy

  • You have a condition that affects your fertility, for example, you were born without a vas deferens, which is the tube that moves sperm away from the testicles

  • You’re producing such low numbers of sperm that they’re not reaching the vas deferens

  • You’ve had a testicle removed

  • You had surgery as a child to bring down undescended testicles

  • You’ve had a radical prostatectomy (prostate removal) due to prostate cancer

3) You are unable to ejaculate

This may be because:

  • Your semen enters your bladder instead of emerging through your penis (retrograde ejaculation)

  • An issue, such as nerve damage, an injury, a condition, or a treatment, for prostate cancer for example, stops you from ejaculating when you orgasm (anejaculation)

Getting started contact us

Contact us today

If you’d like to know more about surgical sperm retrieval or would like to book an appointment, please get in touch. We’ll get back to you within 48 hours and provide you with all the information you need to get started.

Who can benefit from surgical sperm retrieval?

We offer surgical sperm retrieval treatment to:

  • Couples who want to use the sperm in a fertility treatment, such as ICSI

  • People who wish to preserve their sperm for use at a later stage

What is the success rate of surgical sperm retrieval?

If you have no sperm in your semen due to a blockage (obstructive azoospermia), there’s a very high chance, around 90%, we’ll be able to recover sperm.

If you have no sperm in your semen due to a sperm production problem (non-obstructive azoospermia), there’s approximately a 40% chance we’ll be able to recover sperm.

It’s important to remember, though, that even if sperm is successfully recovered following SSR, there are many other factors at play within the IVF process, so there’s no guarantee it will lead to pregnancy.

As a leading fertility group, we always aim to offer the latest proven techniques and have highly skilled teams dedicated to the science of fertility.

We understand sensitivities and frustrations of fertility problems and will always give the most honest and helpful advice to get the best experience for you.

To find out the overall IVF success rate of your local TFP Fertility clinic, please enter your postcode on our local clinics page and select your nearest clinic.

How much does surgical sperm retrieval cost?

The cost of surgical sperm retrieval at TFP Fertility varies because we carefully tailor treatment and care plans to meet your individual needs and give you the best chance of success.

The main factors that determine the cost of the treatment are:

  • What type of procedure you require (PESA or TESE)

  • The treatment the sperm is used in and the number of cycles (e.g., ICSI)

A typical SSR cycle includes the procedure, plus sedation, semen analysis, freezing, and one year of storage.

You can find a detailed price list for all treatments and procedures on each TFP Fertility clinic page. Find your nearest clinic, or use our contact form to request a confidential chat about your circumstances, whether SSR is right for you, and to take you through the costs. 

Nurse with a little kid

Speak to us today

If you’re keen to discuss your fertility treatment options, have a question about SSR, or would like to book an appointment at your local TFP Fertility clinic, please use our contact form. There’s no experience like this, and we’re here with you every step of the way.

Surgical sperm retrieval in more detail

Every fertility journey is unique, but your surgical sperm retrieval treatment is likely to follow the four steps outlined below.

1. Identifying the issue

If an analysis of your semen shows very few or no sperm are present, you will undergo tests to determine the issue.

Once the cause has been identified, we’ll develop a tailored treatment plan for you.

2. Pre-op appointment

You’ll be invited to attend a pre-op assessment around 1–2 weeks before your surgery to determine that you’re fit and well to undergo your procedure.

3. Preparing for treatment

Around 24 hours before your surgery, you will need to shave your scrotum or use a hair-removing cream.

You mustn’t eat anything for at least 6–8 hours before your procedure, and we also advise you don’t drink alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to surgery.

4. The procedure

PESA (percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration)

If you’re having a PESA procedure, you’ll receive a local anaesthetic to minimise pain and discomfort.

Then a fine needle will then be passed into a tube within the testicle and fluid removed.

One of our fertility experts will immediately inspect the fluid under a microscope to check for sperm and analyse their quality.

TESE (testicular sperm extraction)

If you’re having a TESE procedure, you’ll receive a local anaesthetic, or you may be given a general anaesthetic if multiple samples of tissue need to be taken from different areas on the testicle.

A small cut(s) is made into the testicle to take a sample of tissue, and this is examined under a microscope to look for sperm.

Dissolvable stitches are used.

How long does it take to recover from surgical sperm retrieval?

Side effects are very rare following surgical sperm retrieval, but you may experience minor bruising and swelling of the scrotum.

Typically, you can return to work 24–48 hours after treatment, but strenuous activity should be avoided for 5–10 days.

We’ll prescribe you pain medication to help ease you through your recovery, and you may be given antibiotics to take before or after the procedure to help lower the risk of infection.

One person offering support to another person

What happens if the procedure is successful?

Usually we freeze the sperm for use in a future cycle of ICSI.

Your consultant will talk to you about your treatment options.

What happens if no sperm is found?

It’s rare for no sperm to be found during a surgical sperm retrieval procedure, but there’s always a chance the treatment won’t be successful.

If you’re affected in this way, we can help you access specialist counselling. We can also discuss with you other options for having a family, such as using donor sperm.


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