Despite the stereotype that is presented in movies and on television, infertility isn’t just a female issue. In fact, in 40 percent of couples who have difficulty achieving pregnancy, a male infertility factor is present.
“Male infertility is an issue that, in the past, had not been focused on as closely as female infertility,” says Cara Cimmino, M.D., a urologist at Piedmont Physicians Group. “But it’s very important to have the male partner evaluated as well.”
Years ago, sperm retrieval was not considered an option for couples who struggled with infertility.
“It’s very exciting to know we can offer these therapies now that allow people to achieve pregnancy when they couldn’t before,” she says.
“If you are trying to conceive, the most important thing from a male aspect is that you produce sperm and that you’re able to ejaculate that sperm so it is able to impregnate your spouse,” she explains.
Sperm retrieval is an option for men who are either unable to produce enough sperm or who produce enough sperm, but have an obstruction.
For patients who do not produce enough sperm, sperm is retrieved through a microscopic procedure in the operating room called a testicular sperm extraction (micro-TSE).
“We look through all of the testicular tissue and try to identify tubules that look like they are most likely to have sperm in them,” explains Dr. Cimmino. “We’re able to look at it under a microscope and then freeze and preserve that sperm to be used for assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilization.”
Patients who have sperm obstruction typically have plenty of sperm to collect, so the sperm can be collected either from the testicle or the epididymitis, a cap that sits on top of the testicle and stores the sperm.
Dr. Cimmino says male infertility treatment options have changed drastically in the past 20 years and can help couples achieve their dream of having a child.
“We have tons of tools now that we didn’t have before,” she says. “They are there to help people achieve pregnancy who thought that it wasn’t otherwise possible.”
For more information on male infertility, visit Piedmont Physicians Urology Specialists.