What to expect during sperm processing

In most cases, the male partner will be sent to collect a sperm specimen through masturbation at approximately the same time as the egg retrieval. On some occasions however, physical, medical and/or religious constraints demand that sperm be obtained through condom collection following intercourse, or by inserting a needle directly into the testicle(s) under local anesthesia. Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) is a procedure of choice in cases where there is blockage of the sperm ducts (as occurs following vasectomy or following severe injury or infection), or where the man is born without sperm ducts (congenital absence of the vas deferens).  Sometimes, in cases of retrograde ejaculation, sperm can be collected from the man’s bladder. Infrequently, in men with spinal cord injuries, ejaculation is facilitated by electrical stimulation (electroejaculation). Donor sperm, obtained from a sperm bank, can also be used in situations where a male partner doesn’t exist or is unable to produce sperm through one of these collection procedures.

In Sperm Processing, sperm must undergo a biochemical and structural change known as capacitation, before an egg can be fertilized. Capacitation (which under normal circumstances takes place in the woman’s reproductive tract) must be accomplished in the embryology laboratory prior to insemination of the eggs. Motile sperm are processed and activated in specialized culture media and sophisticated techniques may be used to enhance poorly mobile sperm.

Male Infertility Resources