Understanding the Different Methods of Sperm Extraction

Advances in medical technology and technique continue to improve the odds for couples struggling with infertility. Board-certified urologist Eric K. Seaman, MD is a male fertility specialist who is well-known for his compassion and medical skills. Sperm extraction is one of the treatments he may recommend that can help couples build the families they desire.

The basics of sperm extraction

Normally, sperm leave the testicles and reside in coiled tubes called the epididymis, one for each testis, until they’re needed for ejaculation. When it’s time, the sperm travel through a second tube-like structure (vas deferens) and pass through the ejaculatory duct where they mix with fluids from the prostate and other glands to form semen. The semen then passes through the urethra and exits at the tip of the penis.   

Male infertility due to an absence of sperm in the ejaculate may be caused by a blockage in the anatomy that’s preventing sperm from reaching the semen. An intentional example of this would be a vasectomy, during which each vas deferens is blocked or cut to prevent sperm from reaching the semen. A problem with production can also cause a lack of sperm in the ejaculate.

During sperm extraction, also referred to as sperm retrieval, Dr. Seaman collects sperm directly from the testicle and epididymis. The sperm is then prepped and may be frozen for future use or used immediately during a fertility procedure, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Sperm extraction/retrieval methods

Dr. Seaman typically recommends sperm extraction methods based on their high success rate and/or the quantity of sperm that can be obtained for freezing.


He may, for instance, recommend microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) if you have had a vasectomy or an epididymal blockage due to other causes. In these cases, the testis is still producing sperm normally and filling the epididymis. MESA provides Dr. Seaman the option of going directly to the epididymis and retrieving hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions of sperm. This can provide an advantage in terms of the quantity of sperm that can be extracted and frozen. 

Microdissection TESE (microTESE) is an innovative sperm extraction method that’s performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. During the procedure, Dr. Seaman uses an operating microscope to carefully extract tissue containing mature, viable sperm.

This very precise method of sperm extraction minimizes damage to surrounding testicular tissue. It’s often recommended for men who lack sperm in the ejaculate due to structural blockages and/or problems with sperm production.

Which sperm extraction method is best?

The sperm extraction method that best suits you depends on what’s causing your difficulty. Dr. Seaman performs a thorough physical evaluation before recommending your best course of action. He then works closely with you throughout the extraction process and continues to monitor your progress as necessary afterward.  

Schedule a visit with Dr. Seaman today for answers regarding your male fertility issues. Call our office in Millburn, New Jersey, or book your appointment online.

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