Fertility Network UK
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Surgical sperm extraction or donation?

would welcome any advice from people faced with similar scenario. We were all set up for starting ICSI this month and then my partners already poor semen count - less than 100,000 got worse and we failed to get any sample To freeze. The options now are to give up, attempt surgical extraction or use donor sperm. My husband is needle phobic and wants children because I do but would be equally happy without. .... so persuading him to have surgery is going to be difficult. He doesn’t want to use a donor. I am 41 and devastated at the thought that we might give up without trying.

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Ah I’ve been in this position.

The good news for your OH is that the surgical sperm extraction is normally done when he’s had a general anaesthetic and so he won’t feel anything at all or see the needle.

We were unlucky and didn’t find any sperm but I think until we had that news and knew that we had no choice then we couldn’t even contemplate using donor sperm. It took quite a while to get around to that way of thinking though.

It’s such a tough thing to go through and I’m sorry you both have to. From my experience I’d recommend talking it out and then giving him space xx

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Thanks for sharing..... I am trying to remain calm and not panic! You are right I need to give him space and he has asked for this. The problem is it’s on my mind constantly, as well as the fact that my age makes me feel like time is running out.

So for now i’m distracting myself with colouring, reading, relaxation, a spa visit and work till we redicuss next weekend !

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That sounds like a great plan to distract yourself. You’ll probably find that you need to be the one doing all the reassuring for a while and just put on a brave face. Our consultant was useless and left the hospital before my OH woke up and so I had to break the ‘no sperm’ news and it was hard to see a way forward.

My OH took it badly and he just wouldn’t/couldn’t speak about it for almost 3 months. We got through it though, but are still struggling to chose donor sperm as he is being so exacting with his requirements.

Just take it a day at a time and let me know if you have any questions about the process x

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How difficult for you to have to break the news and how tough a three months that must have been. I hope you manage to find a suitable donor soon.

Thanks for the advice I dare say i’ll be coming back to you with more questions x

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My OH hands perm extraction through an op with general anaesthetic. He found it ok and we are about to do our second Icsi and I’m 41! I’m sure I read someone saying they are 42 Ona post the other day or week so don’t panic just yet!! Good luck xx

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Thanks... default panic mode isn’t good for anyone and all the responses here have really helped calm me down! Good luck with your next cycle xx

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Thanks! xx

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Hi, our issues was male factor. Maybe worse than yours as my husband had undecendent testes at birth and this was negligence on the parents part that they did not seek medical help until he was 13 years. Obviously this damaged his testes and years later caused us infertility pains. He had to have biopsy’s almost every cycle and we did quite a few cycles. Not even extraction, this was not an option. But guess what after all the hard work and not everyone can do this we have a son and 10 years later using our frozen embryo from 2009 we are expecting our second child. No donors. Now having said that if you have go for donor and both of you feel you have exhausted all your chances then it is a brilliant idea 🙏🏽. That child will not be any less your own. I would have done the same if I did not get this success. I am now 34 weeks so couple of weeks to go! 😘

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Wow congratulations- thanks for your reply this was just what I needed to hear!

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Hi my husband and I were in exactly the same situation. His sperm gradually got worse and worse despite all the medications they put him on. We was never able to freeze anything and in the end was given the same options sperm retrieval surgery or donor sperm. At first my husband was completely against the idea of donor but gradually came round to the idea after thinking about it for some time.

We decided to go for the sperm retrieval surgery because we both felt if we did end up using donor sperm we would want to be 100% sure we had tried everything to find useable sperm from my husband first otherwise we would always be wondering later on. Luckily he was really keen to do the surgery and we are both so glad he did as they found useable sperm enough to use for one icsi cycle which worked and 3 separate pots to freeze. The surgeons actually told us they high fived each other when they found the sperm as they knew we'd been waiting for so long for good news.

The surgery wasn't too bad. He had to take time of work and was in a bit of pain but he said it was so worth it and would have been either with good or bad news.

It's a big decision to make but it was so worth it for us. It's just giving you a definite answer either way so you can move on. My husband did say if he knew for definite we couldn't use his sperm then he would feel better about using donor sperm.

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I agree I think we need to feel like we’ve done everything we can... well I do.

Great to hear another success story .... I needed my hope restoring and I guess a bit of time to recharge both our batteries is what is needed and will help whatever decision we make. Thank you x

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We were lucky that we didn't have a sperm issue, but if there had been I'd have wanted to try everything with that sperm first. There is sperm there so it's possible for it to work without a donor.

I know several couples where there was a way lower sperm count than that and they have children without using a donor (in fact all conceived naturally it just took some of them a long time). So neither of you should give up hope x

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Hi, my husband had a Zero sperm count and was offered the extraction under local anaesthetic with the knowledge that we may not get anything.. however half an hour after he went down the dr came to see me and told me that they got so much more than they ever expected.. 7no Petri dishes full.. as you can imagine we were over the moon.. sadly though the sperm didn’t defrost as it should but at least we know it’s there.. if your other half is like mine.. he was terrified but all the same he would do it again.. he was sore for two days.. I hope this helps

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Wow that is encouraging- thank you. Also good to hear he’d do it again. Sorry it wasn’t successful in the end. Hearing everyone’s experiences has really helped this weekend - thank you all x

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