Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) is a sperm retrieval procedure that involves a doctor making a small incision in the testes with a scalpel, and examining the seminiferous tubules and testicular tissues for the presence of sperm. This procedure is typically done to diagnose the cause of azoospermia, or no sperm in the semen, or to freeze sperm for future fertility treatment.

What is testicular sperm extraction?

Testicular sperm extraction, or TESE, is a procedure to recover sperm from the testicle. It involves a surgeon making a small incision in the scrotum and removing small amounts of tissue and sperm from the testicle.

Microdissection TESE, which uses a microscope to identify areas of the testicle that are more likely to have sperm, has better sperm retrieval rates and procedure outcomes and is now often recommended over traditional TESE.

Testicular sperm extraction for male fertility

TESE can extract sperm directly from the testicles of men whose infertility results from non-obstructive azoospermia (absence of sperm in the ejaculate). This may be caused by:

TESE can also be used to retrieve sperm after a vasectomy. The recovered sperm may be used in fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or frozen to be used in the future.

Process of testicular sperm extraction

TESE usually takes place under general anesthesia in an operating room. The procedure lasts around 20 to 45 minutes and involves a surgeon making a small incision in the scrotum, then extracting a small quantity of tissue from the testicle. If a microscopic examination of the tissue finds sperm, the sperm can be frozen or used in fertility treatments.


Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) and testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) are the most common procedures for retrieving sperm from the testicles. TESE usually takes place under general anesthesia, with an experienced surgeon conducting a surgical biopsy of the testicle. Complications are more likely with TESE than TESA. On the other hand, TESA is simpler to perform, may only require local anesthesia, and is likely to result in a quicker recovery.Research that compared the outcomes of both TESE and TESA on each participant identified TESE as more effective. In addition to TESE extracting a higher number of sperm, the sperm cells were more likely to be motile (moving) than ones retrieved through TESA.

Back to Glossary
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram