Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR)

In some men, sperm are manufactured in the testes but are not present in the ejaculate, either due to a blockage or because of reduced sperm production.  In such cases sperm may be collected by surgical sperm retrieval techniques.
These techniques are also used for men who have previously had a vasectomy or a failed vasectomy reversal. There are three ways to retrieve the sperm:

  • Aspiration through the skin
  • Aspiration through testicular skin 
  • Extraction from a testicular tissue (biopsy) sample

The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic. The least invasive aspiration technique is attempted first and we would only move onto the more complicated procedures if this were not successful. Sadly we do on occasion fail to retrieve any sperm and in this situation the options are to either abandon the scheduled egg recovery or proceed and inseminate the eggs with donated sperm. This is fully discussed before the treatment begins. If possible, we will freeze any surplus sperm for use in future cycles, but it is important to remember that the sperm may not survive the freezing technique.

Once sperm has been retrieved, it is used for the ICSI technique and the success rate for this treatment is very similar to that of ICSI with ejaculated sperm.