Navigating medical jargon can be tricky. But those seemingly meaningless letters are the key to improving your health, fertility, and ability to create the family you’re longing for. Here are some translations for you so you can better understand your options.
Stands for: in vitro fertilization
What it means: IVF involves extracting eggs from the woman, sperm from the man, and combining the two in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then returned to the woman’s uterus, and, if all goes well, a baby is born. For some couples struggling with infertility, IVF can be an effective solution. However, it’s often costlier and more complicated than other methods, such as a vasectomy reversal.
Stands for: microscopic epididymal sperm aspiration
What it means: This is a method of retrieving sperm so that it can be inserted into the egg. MESA is performed in an operating room with a microscope that allows the surgeon to see the very tiny tubes that store sperm in the epididymis. It’s used when the man’s body is producing sperm, but that sperm isn’t getting to its intended destination due to a blockage in the epididymis (where the sperm learn to swim after they are produced in the testicle) or a blockage in the vas deferens (the tube that transports the sperm to the semen). The most common cause of blockage is a vasectomy.
Stands for: testicular sperm extraction
What it means: TESE is a technique where a small portion of tissue is removed from the inside of the testicle, and sperm is extracted from it. Like MESA it can be used when there is a blockage of the epididymis or the vas deferens. It’s required when sperm production is so low that there isn’t enough sperm to even make it to the epididymis or vas deferens. In this case the best approach is often a testicular microdissection using an operating microscope just like with the MESA procedure to look through the testicle tissue for areas that are more plump with sperm. This is also known as a Micro-TESE.
Stands for: percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration
What it means: In this procedure, a needle is inserted into the epididymis in the hopes of finding a pocket of sperm hiding out. If it works, it’s a very simple procedure. Unfortunately, success rates are low, and it only applies to situations where there is a blockage, not when there is very low sperm production. In those cases, another method of sperm extraction needs to be tried.
Stands for: testicular sperm aspiration
What it means: In this procedure, a needle is inserted into the testicle to suck out a very small quantity of sperm. This very simple procedure only applies to situations where there is a blockage, not when there is very low sperm production, unless it is just being used to diagnose a condition. The amount of sperm obtained is less than with a TESE, so TESA must often be repeated for more than one cycle of IVF, whereas TESE often provides enough sperm for multiple IVF attempts with just one procedure.
Stands for: intracytoplasmic sperm injection
What it means: This is the second half of the process started with either TESE, Micro TESE, MESA, or PESA. ICSI is the act of inserting the extracted sperm into the egg. Doctors use specialized micromanipulation tools for this, including inverted microscopes and a special needle. Sperm that are extracted instead of ejaculated cannot fertilize an egg on their own and must be injected directly into the egg. Fortunately it just takes one, so even men with very low levels of sperm production can father children with these techniques.
Stands for: erectile dysfunction
What it means: This is a blanket term for malfunctions in the body part that likes to get it up under the blanket. ED can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including prostate problems, Type 2 diabetes, hypogonadism, hypertension, chronic sleep disorders, drugs, and more.
Navigating these terms and the conditions they refer to can be tough—but you don’t have to go it alone. Sign up for a free consultation today, and we’ll crack the code together. You’ll be on the road to building your dream family in no time!