Give Yourself a Hand

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have been trying to conceive for nine months and our fertility doctor is suggesting that we consider IVF (in-vitro fertilization). Step one is for me to bring in a sperm sample for analysis. What are they analyzing? Frankly, I find the idea of producing a sample on demand rather embarrassing. And the way a friend described the process—dingy bathroom with a few sticky porn magazines—was really of off-putting. Isn’t there some other way to get semen out of me than the usual?

A: Let’s start with your second question. The one-word answer is, Yes. There are other ways. But they’re extremely expensive and not nearly as fun. The two most common techniques are called “testicular sperm extraction” (TESE) and “microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration” (MESA). Both involve making incisions in the scrotum and testicles, and either manually removing sperm cells or actually cutting away a small piece of testicular tissue. (I’ll bet just reading that last sentence probably made most male readers involuntarily grab their crotch.)
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