ale Infertility Test: Testicular Biopsy
Among one of the most common male infertility tests that examine the underlying causes of fertility problems is the testicular biopsy. This fertility test involves the removal of testicular tissue in order to analyze any abnormalities that may be causing infertility. Sperm is produced in the testicles, and any testicular abnormalities can seriously affect male fertility. But what exactly does this male fertility test involve? And what types of fertility diagnoses can it yield?
The Fertility Test Procedure
A testicular biopsy involves a small surgical procedure that takes place while a patient is under light sedation. This involves the insertion of a small needle into the testis in order to obtain a small sample of tissue. The procedure can take between fifteen minutes to a half an hour to take place, and may be performed in a health practitioner's office or on an outpatient basis.
The tissue that is extracted is then prepared for laboratory analysis to determine the presence of sperm. This provides insight into any abnormalities regarding sperm production.
This type of fertility testing also allows for the evaluation of the cells responsible for the production of testosterone hormones in the tissues surrounding sperm-producing tubules. These cells are known as semineferous and interstitial Leydig cells.
Testicular Biopsy Results and Fertility Conditions
The results of a testicular biopsy can lead to a diagnosis of several conditions related to infertility depending on the factors observed. Indeed, a testicular biopsy is often performed following other fertility testing methods.
A testicular biopsy can determine whether the cause of azoospermia, also known as zero sperm count, is a blockage or a sperm production problem. The following are some fertility complications that may be identified by a testicular biopsy:
- problems affecting the cells responsible for sperm maturation
- low sperm production, a fertility condition also known as hypospermatogenesis
- absence of germ cells that initiate sperm production (germinal cell aplasia)
- fertility problems due to a previous infection of the testicles
- Leydig cell abnormalities
Any of these complications can negatively affect the male reproductive system and lead to infertility.
Testicular Biopsy and Infertility Treatment
In cases where sperm production problems severely affect male fertility, a testicular biopsy can sometimes assist as part of an infertility treatment for couples trying to get pregnant.
In some cases, the presence of sperm in small areas of the testis can be retrieved via testicular biopsy. This sperm can then be used in infertility treatments using assisted reproductive techniques (ART). More specifically, the sperm retrieved can be injected into an egg for fertilisation using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The retrieved sperm can be stored and frozen for later use. Speak to your health care provider or a fertility specialist regarding infertility treatment options for your particular case.
Preparing for a Testicular Biopsy
While there is not much preparation work to be done when it comes to this fertility test, you may want to know what to expect if you plan to undergo a testicular biopsy. The procedure is generally painless, aside from the presence of some discomfort upon injection of anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used is mild, and results in a state of conscious sedation.
Following this infertility test, it is common to experience soreness, mild swelling, bruising or discoloration in the scrotum or testicles for two to four days. It is generally recommended that sexual activity be avoided for one to two weeks following fertility testing. Symptoms should resolve on their own within a few days.