Considering a Vasectomy Reversal?

Considering a Vasectomy Reversal? Considering a Vasectomy Reversal?

Do you want to get pregnant yet your male partner has had a vasectomy? Perhaps he should consider a vasectomy reversal.

What is a vasectomy?
During a vasectomy procedure, a doctor (usually a urologist) blocks or cuts the vas deferens, found on the right and left side of a man’s testicles. This blockage will prevent sperm from travelling through the penis during ejaculation.

A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control that leads to male sterilization. After a vasectomy, a man is unable to produce sperm to fertilize a woman’s eggs. Thus, he will be unable to get a woman pregnant.

What is a vasectomy reversal?
If your partner had a vasectomy, a vasectomy reversal may allow him to produce sperm to get you pregnant during intercourse.

A vasectomy reversal is a surgical procedure and is done under anesthesia. During a vasectomy reversal, the vas deferens is reconnected. This lets sperm travel from the testes out through the penis during ejaculation.

Types of vasectomy reversals
Before the vasectomy reversal, the surgeon will examine a fluid sample from the end of the vas deferens to check for sperm. If sperm are present, the surgeon will proceed with a vasovasostomy (VV).

If sperm are not visible during this preliminary evaluation, the surgeon will perform a procedure called a vasoepididymostomy (VE). A VE is necessary to overcome any problems or blockages in the epididymis, where the sperm are stored.

A VE is a more complex vasectomy reversal procedure than a VV. The VE has lower success rates. Some men may need both procedures: one done on either side.

Recovery is fast
If your partner has a vasectomy reversal, recovery is usually just a few days. Some men have some pain. However, in most cases of vasectomy reversal, pain medication helps to ease the discomfort.

Also, his doctor will recommend that he refrain from having sex for several weeks after vasectomy reversal. Heavy lifting and physical labor will be restricted until your partner has fully healed. He may have to wear a jockstrap to help him fully recover from the procedure.

Sperm levels after vasectomy reversal
After the vasectomy reversal, your partner will see his physician every few months to make sure his sperm count is normal. After a VV, sperm count and motility may be normal within a few months. After a VE, it may take months to a year for sperm counts to get to normal levels.

Vasectomy reversal versus IVF
You may wonder if vasectomy reversal is necessary for you and your partner in order to get pregnant. After a vasectomy, men have two primary options for getting pregnant again:

  1. They can have a vasectomy reversal.
  2. They can try in vitro fertilization (IVF). During IVF, sperm are surgically removed from your partner and used to fertilize your eggs.

Many couples believe the benefits of a vasectomy reversal outweigh the benefits of IVF to conceive after a vasectomy. Benefits of a vasectomy reversal over IVF include:

  • Once your partner has recovered, he will be fertile for many years while with IVF he will only be able to conceive during that particular IVF cycle.
  • Vasectomy reversal may be more cost-effective than IVF.
  • During IVF, both you and your partner will have multiple procedures and multiple doctor visits; vasectomy reversal will require only your partner’s participation.
  • IVF can sometimes increase the chances of having a pregnancy with multiples, which may increase complications during pregnancy.

In vitro fertilization may be a better option for your partner if:

Vasectomy reversal does not guarantee fertility
Unfortunately, vasectomy reversal doesn’t always work. Sometimes the surgeon is unable to reconnect the vas deferens. Normal sperm activity doesn’t resume after vasectomy reversal for some men. However, your partner can repeat vasectomy reversals and let the surgeon try again.

Talk with your partner’s urologist and see if vasectomy reversal can help you get pregnant.

Find a local fertility specialist

Sources
  • American Pregnancy Association: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: ICSI
  • American Society of Reproductive Medicine: management of infertility due to obstructive azoospermia
  • American Urological Association Foundation: Vasectomy Reversal
  • Report on Management of Obstructive Azoospermia 
  • NIH Facts About Vasectomy Safety