How is sperm obtained for fertilising eggs?

In most cases, the male partner can produce sperm through ejaculation. Sperm is produced on the same day as the EPU as a fresh sperm sample gives the best fertilisation results.

If sperm cannot be produced through ejaculation, for instance, because the man has had a vasectomy, then sperm can be surgically removed from the testes (known as a TESA) or from the tube leading from the testes called the epididymis (known as a PESA). These surgical sperm retrievals are performed under either general or local anaesthesia. They involve placing a needle into the testes (for TESA) or into the epididymis (for PESA).

The third source of sperm is from frozen specimens stored in “straws”. Sperm may have been frozen by the man prior to IVF treatment or may be from a third-party donor. On the day of EPU, one or more straws of sperm is thawed for fertilising the eggs.