At Houston Fertility Center, we offer a wide range of diagnostic testing and infertility treatments for couples that are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant. In cases of male infertility in which no sperm is present in the semen or no ejaculate is produced, sperm retrieval treatment and IVF may help couples conceive.
Sperm Retrieval Candidates
Sperm retrieval procedures are indicated when the sperm are prevented from entering the semen or men are unable to ejaculate. Sperm retrieval may be recommended for men who have:
- Obstructive or non-obstructive azoospermia (A lack of sperm in semen)
- Had a vasectomy (a procedure that blocks the sperm from entering the semen)
- Absence of the vas deferens (the tubal structure that carries sperm to the testis)
- Anejaculation problems (The inability to ejaculate)
- Retrograde ejaculation problems (The ejaculate is released into the bladder instead of out of the tip of the penis)
Sperm Retrieval after Vasectomy
It is not uncommon for men who have previously had a vasectomy to change their minds about having children. Rather than undergo a vasectomy reversal procedure, patients can undergo sperm retrieval treatment combined with IVF to conceive a child.
Sperm Retrieval Techniques
During sperm retrieval, sperm is collected from the male reproductive tract via the testis or epididymis. The sperm that is collected is then used to fertilize viable eggs in vitro (outside of the body). There are several sperm retrieval techniques, including:
- PESA: The PESA, or Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration method, is the most frequently performed sperm retrieval technique. In this approach, sperm is collected from the epididymis by injecting a needle through the scrotum and into the epididymis.
- MESA: The Microscopic Epididymal Sperm Aspiration, or MESA, technique involves microsurgical techniques. An incision is made in the scrotum, exposing the testis and epididymis. With the assistance of a microscope, the surgeon locates and opens an epididymal tubule from which sperm is collected.
- TESE: If sperm can't be collected from the epididymis, Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) may be performed. With this technique, a needle is injected into the testis, drawing out sample fluid and tissue. If sperm are present in the sample, the couple can proceed with IVF and ICSI.
- MicroTESE: In the MicroTESE technique, a microscope is used to identify tubules within the testis. The testicular tubules that appear fuller are more likely to contain sperm. The surgeon can then remove promising testicular tubules in the hopes of extracting sperm from them.
Sperm Retrieval and IVF and ICSI
Once sperm have been extracted, they can be used to fertilize the female's viable eggs. Sperm retrieval is performed in conjunction with IVF, and in some cases, ICSI as well.
IVF: For our patients in Houston, in vitro fertilization is a popular fertility treatment option. The IVF process entails several steps. First, the female must undergo daily injections of hormones to stimulate ovulation production. Then, near the time of ovulation, the eggs are retrieved from the follicles of the ovaries. Next, the eggs and the sperm are combined in a laboratory setting. Over the next few days, the fertilization process occurs. Once the embryos reach the advanced blastocyst stage, they can be transferred to the uterus for implantation.
ICSI: The ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, treatment is commonly performed when the quality of the collected sperm is poor. With this technique, one sperm is injected into the egg to increase the chance of fertilization.
To schedule an appointment at Houston Fertility Center, contact our practice today.