Before IVF treatment begins, we carry out a semen analysis. You can learn more on the Fertility Assessment page.
Some men have sperm being manufactured in their testes, but not present in ejaculate when the semen is analysed. The problem can be caused by a blockage, or reduced sperm production. In these cases, we can collect sperm via surgical sperm retrieval – SSR. We can also use this method to collect sperm for men who have previously had a vasectomy, or a failed vasectomy reversal.
There are three ways to collect the sperm:
- Aspiration through the skin
- Aspiration through testicular skin
- Extraction from a testicular tissue sample (biopsy)
Sperm retrieval surgery takes place under conscious sedation, or general anaesthetic. We always try the least invasive aspiration technique first, and only move on to other procedures if it’s not successful. Any sperm we retrieve is frozen in straws for future use. Sadly, sometimes we don’t manage to retrieve any sperm. If this happens we’ll arrange to talk about your options, and how we might proceed.
We always schedule sperm retrievals for before the egg collection, to give us time to discuss alternative options, eg donor sperm, if we don’t retrieve any sperm.
Once sperm has been retrieved, we use intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to inseminate the collected eggs. The success rate for this treatment is very similar to that of ICSI with ejaculated sperm.