Sometimes, during a semen analysis, no sperm are seen in the ejaculate. This is called azoospermia, a condition where men ejaculate but it doesn’t contain any sperm. This can be due to several reasons. Sometimes azoospermia is due to an obstruction, such as a previous vasectomy or previous infections. In these cases, the sperm itself may be normal and healthy, but it can’t fertilise the egg because it can’t actually reach it.
In other cases, azoospermia is caused by a production problem within the testicle itself. Lack of sperm in the ejaculate can also be due to hormonal reasons, or maybe a man can’t ejaculate at all – from a spinal cord injury or certain psychological factors.
Where appropriate, and depending on the cause, we can provide one of a number of different methods of sperm extraction:
The simplest procedure where sperm is aspirated through the skin using a fine needle and syringe from the epididymis (a structure above the testicle where sperm is stored and matures).
A procedure which involves a small cut to the scrotum to allows direct microscopic visualisation of the epididymis using a microscope so that sperm can be aspirated.
A small biopsy is taken from the testicle and sperm is retrieved directly from the tissue.
This is the most advanced procedure. A cut to the scrotum allows access to the testicles. These are then opened and multiple small biopsies are taken under microscopic visualization, targeting areas of the testes more likely to contain sperm using a microscope.
All procedures will require you to have anaesthetic – which is either local for PESA and TESE, or sedation for the other two – but while this may sound alarming, you will still be in and out the same day. Once it is all done, and we have the sperm, we can freeze it and be ready to continue the rest of the IVF cycle: stimulating the ovaries, collecting the eggs, injecting the most appropriate sperm into the appropriate egg, and transferring the fertilised embryo into the womb.
Around a third of the cases related to conception problems are due to the reproductive health of the male. At King’s Fertility, we understand the psychological challenges associated with infertility. Our andrology experts are dedicated to informing you on every step you take to ensure your problems end today.