Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR)

Last updated: November 9, 2023

What Does Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR) Mean?

Surgical sperm retrieval is an umbrella term for the group of procedures that involve the surgical removal of sperm from the testes. It can be used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization (IVF). These procedures may be offered to men with azoospermia (no sperm in the semen) in order to obtain sperm for biological parenthood.

FertilitySmarts Explains Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR)

Surgical sperm retrieval may be used in order to obtain sperm from men with either obstructive or non-obstructive azoospermia. It includes the following procedures:

  • Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)
  • Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA)
  • Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)
  • Microsurgical Testicular Sperm Extraction (Micro TESE)

The type of surgical procedure used is dependant on the cause of azoospermia. This is because different causes of azoospermia will result in sperm being found in different areas of the male reproductive tract. For example, men with obstructive azoospermia will likely have sperm in their epididymis, so a PESA would be the first option. Health care providers should attempt the simplest, least-invasive procedure first, before moving on to more extensive surgical options.

After sperm is surgically removed, it can either be used to fertilize an egg through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or frozen for later use.

Surgical sperm retrieval is only possible when a man’s testicles are producing sperm. If no sperm can be found in the man’s testes, alternatives, such as the use of donor sperm, may be discussed.

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