Surgical sperm retrieval (SSR) is a technique for collecting sperm from the epididymis or testis. This is performed when no sperm is present in the ejaculate which may be because of:

- a failure of the sperm passages to develop

- an obstruction in these passages.

- men who have already had a previous male sterilisation (vasectomy).


Types of SSR

- PESA: (Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration- this is a short, relatively painless procedure and requires no surgical incisions; PESA uses a fine needle inserted into the epididymis to retrieve sperm

- TESA (Testicular Extraction of Sperm by Aspiration)- if no sperm is obtained by PESA, then a procedure known as TESA is carried out. Multiple punctures are made to the testicle using a needle attached to a syringe and attempts are made to suck out small samples of the very fine tubes in which the sperm are formed

- Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)- if no sperm is obtained by TESA, then a procedure known as TESE is carried out; a small incision is made into the testis and a sample of testicular tissue is taken, which is examined for sperm. The testicular incision is closed with a suture.


Before your sample can be frozen, we must screen all patients for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C as well as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Information will be given to you and written consent is required before taking the blood sample for screening.

If it is found that you do carry any one of these viruses, we can freeze and store your sample in a separate tank.


If you have previously had a vasectomy, you will be charged for the storage of any sample obtained by SSR.

Where will I have my procedure?
  • - Your procedure will be performed in the fertility centre in a clinical procedure room

  • - Just before the procedure you will be given appropriate sedation and pain relief

  • - You will not be able to drive home after the procedure so you will need to arrange transport to and from the centre
  • Results and Aftercare

    What happens after the procedure?

    - You may experience minor discomfort and a little bruising

  • - The doctor will let you know what was found before you go home.
  • - You will be seen again in the Fertility Centre to discuss the results and what they mean in full.
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    What happens after I go home?

    - You must keep the wound clean by showering or bathing every day.

  • - Wear firm, supporting underpants night and day for one week after the procedure, you can remove these to bathe.
  • - No sexual activity for 2 weeks
  • - Most men can resume routine physical activity after 2 to 3 days, but you should avoid strenuous activity (such as cycling, running, swimming) for 7 to 10 days.
  • - Healing is usually complete within 10 to 14 days.

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    Are there any after effects?

    Complications such as bleeding or infection are rare, happening in less than 1% (1 in 100) of patients.

    You may have a little bruising or tenderness for 24 to 48 hours.

    How successful is SSR?

    Chances of obtaining sperm are over 70%. If enough sperm cells are found then they can be frozen, stored and used to do ICSI in a future IVF cycle.


    Further Information

    If you would like any further information regarding surgical sperm retrieval, please get in touch. One of the team will be happy to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.