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Following the discovery of azoospermia or severe oligospermia (too few sperm to be able to use for assisted conception/IVF) the options moving forward can be quite confusing and difficult to navigate through. What is the difference between PESE/TESE/MicroTESE? Our experts expand more on this below.

Sperm may be retrieved from the testis itself, or from a structure that surrounds the testis called the epididymis. If sperm is retrieved from the epididymis then this is done usually with a fine needle placed through the skin and directly into the epididymis called a PESA. It can be performed under local anaesthetic or sedation and occasionally under general anaesthetic. There are minimal complications from a PESA although there may be some bruising in the scrotum and some discomfort. This should resolve after a week, and although strenuous activity should be avoided for a few days, most types of work can be done immediately after the procedure.

If sperm is retrieved from the testis, called TESE, this can either be done through a small cut in the scrotum and a biopsy gun or through a slightly wider cut in the scrotum and an open biopsy. Again, this can be performed under local anaesthetic , sedation or general anaesthetic. There is usually some bruising in the scrotum and some minor discomfort. There is a small chance of infection or testicular damage, but this is rare. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 2 weeks, and only light duties at work would be advised for a few days after the procedure. A scrotal support is given out after the procedure and should be worn for a few days to prevent bruising, but could be exchanged for some tight fitting underpants. 

If a microscopic dissection is performed to retrieve sperm then the recovery and post-operative instructions are the same as for TESE as described above. There is a higher chance of a temporary drop in testosterone with microscopic dissection which can make men tired and lacking in energy until this picks up again. This can take several weeks to return to normal.


Contact Information 

For any queries or information regarding prices, please contact Jo Smith on 0161 495 7791 or email



Information on sperm retrieval through the British Association of Urological Surgeons can be found here: