Men’s Health

Sperm Retrieval in Cleveland, OH

What is Sperm Retrieval?

Sperm retrieval is acquiring sperm for fertility purposes. As many as 10 to 15 percent of infertile men have no sperm in their ejaculate (the fluid released from the penis during orgasm). Sperm retrieval can include several methods depending on the cause, the patient, and Nannan Thirumavalavan, MD.

Dr. Thirumavalavan is a fellowship-trained and board-certified urologist specializing in male reproductive medicine and microsurgery, Dr. Thirumavalavan is an expert in sperm retrieval. Call our office at (216) 285-5036 to schedule a consultation.

When is Sperm Retrieval Performed?

Sperm retrieval is most often performed as part of fertility treatments for a couple desiring to have a baby. Dr. Thirumavalavan can talk with you to help you along this journey, and to help determine the cause of your delay in conception. Sperm retrieval is done when pregnancy is the goal but not possible without help.

This procedure is often done in connection with IVF or combining an egg with the sperm for fertilization, or ICSI where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. Most often, sperm retrieval is performed due to:

  • A blockage or obstruction in the reproductive tract
  • Previous vasectomy
  • Problems with sperm production
  • Little or no sperm in the semen
  • Inability to ejaculate
  • Genetics or a birth defect
  • Previous surgery or health condition
  • Poor quality of sperm

Am I a Candidate for Sperm Retrieval?

To see if you are a candidate for sperm retrieval, you can talk with Dr. Thirumavalavan. The way to check for sperm in the semen is to do a semen analysis. This means your provider will look at your semen under a microscope to determine the sperm levels. You may also get a blood hormone test or a genetic test to help find the cause. If there is little or no sperm in the semen, you may be a candidate for sperm retrieval.

Why Sperm Retrieval?

If you and Dr. Thirumavalavan determine you are a candidate for sperm retrieval, you will discuss the best plan moving forward. Based on your semen analysis and a physical exam, you can decide which method you prefer.

Overall, the main goals of the procedure include:

  1. To obtain the best quality sperm
  2. To obtain enough sperm for freezing
  3. To minimize injury to the testicle and reproductive tract

How is Sperm Retrieval Performed?

There are several options for sperm retrieval. Dr. Thirumavalavan utilized an operating microscope, or microsurgical methods, to perform sperm retrievals and extractions.

Types of Sperm Retrieval Procedures

Sperm typically passes through from the testicle into a duct called the epididymis, and from there is ejaculated out. The location for sperm retrieval can depend on many factors.


Microdissection TESE (microTESE)- Performed in the operating room with a microscope to allow for a more thorough evaluation of the testicle. This is done in men who have little to no sperm production and can find very tiny amounts of sperm.


Micro Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA)-  Performed in the operating room with general anesthesia utilizing the operating microscope and allows for an extensive collection of mature sperm. This is done for men with congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD)) or after a vasectomy (if a vasectomy reversal is not being considered)).


Electro-Ejaculation (EEJ) – Some men have spinal cord injuries or other neurologic conditions that make ejaculation and orgasm difficult. Dr. Thirumavalavan is trained in a complex procedure known as electroejaculation, which can cause an ejaculation when the patient is asleep. This can produce ejaculate that can be frozen for future use.

Dr. Thirumavalavan  will work with you to determine the best type of sperm retrieval based on your medical history, your anatomy, infertility plan, and overall desires. All of these procedures are routinely performed and ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Schedule a Consultation

Dr. Thirumavalavan is a sperm retrieval specialist with fellowship training in male reproductive medicine and microsurgery. To schedule a consultation, give our office a call at (216) 285-5036.


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