male infertility

Male Infertility Program

The Massachusetts General Hospital Male Infertility Program helps couples conceive by using the least invasive treatment approaches possible.

About this Program

Part of one of the world's foremost academic medical centers, our program offers the complete range of services for couples struggling with infertility. Male and female patients can receive all fertility-related care—coordinated by physicians from the Department of Urology and the Fertility Center—in the convenience of one location.

A Singular Focus on Male Fertility

Cigdem Tanrikut, MD, director for male reproductive medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, heads our program and focuses solely on the issue of male infertility. She has received extensive training in advanced surgical techniques for finding sperm in even the most challenging situations. These procedures are performed at few U.S. institutions, and Dr. Tanrikut is one of the few trained specialists in New England.

Explore a Variety of Treatment Options

Male fertility issues include patients who have problems with sperm production and obstruction of sperm release from the reproductive system. Treatment options vary depending on the cause of infertility.

Lifestyle Changes and Medication

We may begin treatment by asking you to make lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, stopping smoking or limiting caffeine and alcohol. In addition, medication changes or hormonal therapies may help optimize sperm quality and hormonal status.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

We offer a variety of assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods, which involve manipulating sperm and eggs in a laboratory to help with conception. Examples include:

Sperm Extraction Techniques

These procedures may help men with severe sperm production issues or blockages that cannot be addressed by surgical reconstruction. In addition to percutaneous testis biopsy (an office procedure performed under local anesthesia in which a core of testicular tissue is removed using a biopsy needle through a tiny incision), microsurgical options include:

  • Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA): Employing this sophisticated technique, we extract sperm for use with a combination of IVF and ICSI
  • Microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (microTESE): With this procedure, sperm is extracted from the sperm-producing areas in the testicle for use with IVF and ICSI

Surgery for Obstructions

We are highly skilled in microsurgical techniques that can repair or address various reproductive tract obstructions.

  • Microsurgical varicocele repair: Varicoceles, a network of abnormally dilated veins in the testes, can have a negative impact on sperm or testosterone production and are the most common cause of male infertility. We use a microscope in repairing varicoceles, the gold standard for this procedure
  • Microsurgical vasectomy reversal: This delicate operation can restore sperm to the ejaculate in men who previously have had a vasectomy
  • Transurethral resection of the ejaculatory ducts: We can open the ejaculatory ducts to alleviate an obstruction at the last portion of the reproductive tract

Learn more about minimally invasive surgical treatments in the Department of Urology

Sperm Donation

Learn more about the Donation and Surrogacy Program at the Fertility Center

Active Research Efforts

Dr. Tanrikut has conducted extensive research into varicoceles (abnormally dilated veins leaving the testes) and how they may impact sperm and testosterone production. This work reflects her longstanding interest in overall testis function. She also has active ongoing research investigating the potential effect of antidepressants on male fertility.

Additionally, Dr. Tanrikut is serving as co-investigator in a Harvard School of Public Health study of the impact of environmental agents on fertility. Interested patients will have their lead and mercury levels checked and discuss the findings with a principal investigator. For information about enrolling in this study, please call 617-643-2505.

Our Approach

We understand the profound impact infertility can have on a couple. That's why we work as a team to provide couples with expert medical care and psychological and emotional support throughout their journey to parenthood.

Convenient, Comprehensive Care

The Male Infertility Program at Massachusetts General Hospital offers the complete range of services for couples struggling with infertility. Male and female patients can receive all fertility-related care—coordinated by physicians from the Department of Urology and the Fertility Center—in the convenience of one location.

Our program director and fertility specialists regularly meet with members of the andrology and embryology laboratories. These interactions allow andrologists, embryologists and reproductive endocrinologists to lend us their skilled perspectives on new couples coming under our care.

Social workers are also an integral part of our program. Couples may choose to receive counseling and other forms of support to help them cope with the range of emotions they might experience.

What to Expect

Patients typically are referred to us by community physicians or from elsewhere in Mass General. You may also contact us directly to schedule an appointment.

At your initial visit, program director Cigdem Tanrikut, MD, will conduct a thorough history and physical/urological examination. She will also review your personal, reproductive and family history along with any tests you have had in the past. This information helps her assess the need for more testing and formulate your individualized treatment plan.

If no further tests are needed, it may be possible to leave your first appointment with your treatment plan. If additional tests are needed, then you will receive your plan at a follow-up visit.

Most of our surgical procedures take place in the operating room under general anesthesia. All are performed by our doctors on an outpatient basis and range from one to several hours in duration. Certain procedures may take place in the office setting using local anesthetic or sedation.

Conditions & Diseases

The links below provide more information about the conditions and diseases that are treated within this program.

  • Infertility

    Infertility is defined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) as a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body's ability to perform the basic function of reproduction.

  • Pregnancy

    A pregnancy is divided into three phases, called trimesters. Each trimester has its own significant milestones.

Clinical Trials


Contact Us

Male Infertility Program

Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care

32 Fruit StreetSuite 10A Boston, MA 02114
  • Phone: Contact by doctor
  • Fax: 617-724-8882

Dr. Cigdem (Cori) Tanrikut

Other Locations

Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care
104 Endicott Street, Suite 304
Danvers, MA 01923

Phone: 978-882-6767
Specialist voicemail: 978-825-6221
Fax: 978-882-6775

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