Testicular sperm extraction, or TESE, is a procedure used in in vitro fertilization (IVF) to retrieve sperm from males who are unable to ejaculate sperm independently, usually due to trauma, birth defects, non-reconstructed vasectomy, or primary testicular failure. When performed successfully, the procedure eliminates the need for an outside donor, and has increased in popularity among couples undergoing IVF in recent years.
In the TESE procedure, the clinician uses a thin, hollow needle to carefully extract a small portion of testicular tissue. The procedure is performed under a local anesthetic and takes about a half an hour to perform. Patients may experience some discomfort and swelling in the extraction area following the procedure, but these side effects are temporary and usually resolve within a few hours to one day. The extracted tissue is carefully evaluated by laboratory technicians, who extract the sperm cells embedded in the tissue. In some cases, the extracted sperm may be washed in a technique designed to separate healthy sperm from extraneous material prior to fertilization. Once the sperm are extracted and separated, they are combined with the donor egg, usually using a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. In this procedure, a similar hollow needle is used to inject one sperm directly into the egg. ICSI combined with TESE may increase the chances of fertilization. In some cases, the egg and sperm are combined without the use of ICSI.
TESE has become increasingly popular in recent years, and your fertility specialist is a great source of information about this and other fertility procedures that can help you grow your family.