Surgical Sperm Retrieval – PESA

June 17, 2012

my husbands Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR) had been booked. Our consultant called and confirmed
that they would go ahead with the sperm retrieval on Saturday the 4th
June 2011. We were both feeling nervous and neither of us knew what
to expect. Would it hurt? Would they find any sperm? If they did find
any, would it be good enough? So many questions ran through our

was around this time that I decided I should be preparing my body for
our baby. After doing some research, I decided to start taking Pregnacare Conception Tablets. I know this might sound silly, but, it made me feel like
I was doing something positive. Something that might help us to achieve
those two pretty little lines on that test stick in a few months
time. I was also advised to start eating lots of protein. Protein is said to help produce good quality eggs. This meant, that most of
my meals consisted of chicken! Now, don’t get me wrong I like
chicken, but it’s funny how quickly you run out of chicken recipes!

During the run up to the SSR, I started visiting the fertility forum I had found online more and more. I started talking to quite a few people who were having ICSI, or were just about to start. I would try to answer some of the questions that some of the women had posted on the forum in a bid to try and help them. After all, I had posted quite a few questions myself and I was very grateful to those who had answered my many, many questions, which helped to put my mind at ease. If I could return the favour, I was more than happy to do so.

The morning of the SSR arrived and my husband was up early that morning. to be precise! He couldn’t sleep, so he thought a little Xbox might help take his mind off the approaching operation! I woke up around 7.15am and joined him on the sofa. Words of reassurance trickled out of my mouth, floating into his ears and hopefully helping to provide some comfort; that no matter what happened that day, I would love him no less and always be there for him, by his side.

After a very near car crash on the way to the fertility clinic, we arrived in one piece at 8.45am, 15 minutes before the SSR had been scheduled for. We were both nervous but we were made to feel welcome and comfortable. The consultant showed us to a nice, cosy private room and made me a lovely cup of tea! None for my husband though, as he wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything as of midnight the night before.

We met the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant, who would be carrying out the SSR. He was friendly and explained to us that one of two things were going to happen:
  1. They would first attempt to retrieve sperm using a fine needle. This, as the consultant advised is where the sperm is mature. This method is known as PESA (Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration)
  2. If, after attempting the above, no sperm is retrieved, the consultant advised they would then try to take some tissue from the testicles and hope to retrieve sperm that way. However, by using this method there wouldn’t be as much sperm and the sperm would be less mature. This method is known as TESA (Testicular Sperm Aspiration).
The consultant explained that if option number one was carried out, it would take around 10-15 minutes. If they had to go on to option number 2, this would take around 45-60 minutes. 

As my husband changed into a very flattering, gorgeous gown, he was soon wheeled out on a trolley, leaving me to read some magazines and watch TV. I couldn’t concentrate on watching TV, so decided to try and read a magazine. However, all I could think about was whether the SSR would be successful. About an hour later, I was still waiting, on my own, wondering what was going on. I was getting really nervous. Time was getting on and there was still no sign of my husband.

When he was finally wheeled back in, looking more gorgeous than when he’d left – complete with funny white hat, pretty flower print pants on under his gown and nice blue plastic carrier bag type shoes on, I was relieved to see him. He was a little bit dozy, so the consultant thought it would be a good photo opportunity! I now look back on those photos with very fond memories!

After my husband had slept and had some tea and toast, the consultant told us that it was good news. They managed to retrieve sperm and only had to do option one – PESA. Woo hoo! They retrieved seven vials of sperm, which we were advised was enough for three to four, possibly even five cycles. The embryologist told us that the quality was very good and that the sperm had been frozen until ready for action! He explained that because the sperm was so mobile and because I was young (24 at the time), that he was very hopeful that ICSI would work first time for us. This was great news, albeit making it even harder for us to try and keep our feet on the ground! We didn’t want to get over confident because we knew the fall would be harder if it didn’t work.

Following the SSR, we booked our next appointment for the following Tuesday, the 7th of June 2011. This would be our treatment planning appointment, where I would be shown how to give myself injections, possibly have some blood taken and we would be given some more information about IVF and the next steps.

It really felt like the ball was rolling now. Things were in motion and we were most definitely on board the IVF train! Full steam ahead!


  • Kaitake

    January 26, 2013 at 2:29 am

    Hi Emily Mum, I've very pleased to read that your experience of SSR went better than mine! We had ours yesterday and did PESA then TESA, but no sperm were found and now DH is in a lot of pain 🙁 The fertility clinic are saying now we need to try open biopsy. I found your site as I was looking for what other people have experienced of this procedure.

    1. Emily

      January 26, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Hi Kaitake, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that your husbands SSR didn't go as well as you would have hoped. I hope the biopsy is successful for you both. Please let me know how you get on. Sending lots of positive vibes your way. All the best xx

  • Sakshi Verma

    August 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

    In cases of Azoospermia (no sperms in the ejaculate) a sperm retrieval procedure has to be performed by the Andrologist to obtain sperms from vas deferens (tubes transporting sperms) or testis.

  • femiint fertility

    November 2, 2018 at 6:28 am

    good blog post.. thanks for sharing

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