Vasectomy Reversal

Vasectomy reversal procedures may help restore men’s fertility

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed on men, typically using local anesthesia. During the surgery, the vas deferens from each testicle are clamped or cut, and subsequently tied, stitched or sealed. This prevents sperm from mixing with semen during ejaculation – the purpose being to prevent a man from getting his partner pregnant. Men who have undergone a vasectomy will still produce sperm, but because the vas deferens have been cut, the sperm has nowhere to go so it is reabsorbed into the body. Normally, having a vasectomy does not interfere with a man’s sex drive or his ability to have an erection or ejaculate. A vasectomy is considered to be a highly effective male method of birth control. Out of 1000 women, only one or two will experience an unplanned pregnancy after their partner has a vasectomy.

Although vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control, should a man and his current partner decide they want to increase their family size, in some cases the procedure can be reversed. A vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) is a surgical procedure which reconnects the vas deferens that were severed during the vasectomy. In comparison to a vasectomy, the reversal procedure is more lengthy and complicated, and is typically performed under general anesthesia. Success rates after a vasectomy reversal vary depending on how long it has been since a man had the initial vasectomy. Typically, the procedure is more successful when it is performed within ten years after a vasectomy, with the greatest chances of a successful reversal within three years of the vasectomy. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), depending on the type of vasectomy reversal procedure performed and how much time has passed since the vasectomy, sperm returns to the semen in 80–90% of men after a vasectomy reversal. Pregnancy rates after a vasectomy reversal are estimated to range from 20-40%. In cases where a vasectomy reversal procedure has failed, it may be possible for a surgeon to extract sperm directly from a man’s testicles through a procedure known as testicular sperm extraction (TESE). The extracted sperm can then be used with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm extraction (ICSE).

If you are considering a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal, it is recommended that you consult with a urologist.

Read more about vasectomy and vasectomy reversal here and here.

Read the ASRM’s fact sheet on vasectomy reversal here.

Read more about ICSI here.

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