Can a Vasectomy be reversed?

A male vasectomy is considered to be a very simple and effective form of birth control for men, with partner pregnancy rates following a successful procedure being generally less than 0.2%. This is usually a day procedure that involves severing or clamping of the vas deferens – the tubes than carry the sperm from the testicles to the penis.

A successful result means that while ejaculation of seminal fluid may still take place, it should not contain any sperm. However, other forms of birth control are recommended until all already-present sperm has been completely cleared from the vas deferens following the procedure.

“But I’ve changed my mind!”

What about a situation where a man has a vasectomy only to change his mind later on, deciding after all that he would like to father children (or more children)? This does occur on occasion, perhaps as a result of a death of a child, or when entering into a new relationship, or for some other reason. How high are the chances of a reversal operation being successful?

Reversal procedure

The reversal operation is known as a ‘vasovasostomy’, and involves reattaching the severed ends of the vas deferens so that sperm can again travel to the ejaculate. This is a much more involved and complicated procedure than a vasectomy. It can take several hours to perform and is usually followed by several weeks of recovery. It also involves undergoing a thorough medical examination beforehand.

Success rates

Even if the reattachment operation is successful, fertility is always likely to be lower than before the vasectomy took place. The chances of a successful re-attachment procedure within three years of the vasectomy are very high at 97%, while the rate of pregnancy is around 76%. With each passing year, the chances of pregnancy reduce. After 10 years for instance, the rate is around 30%.

If testing shows that there is a zero sperm count in the semen after two years following a reversal, the operation is considered to have failed. There may be other options however, so speak to your specialist if this occurs.

Considering your options

Essentially, this means that if you are considering a vasectomy, you should be as sure as you can be about not wanting to father children, or more of them if you already have children. A vasectomy is as a rule treated as a permanent birth control procedure, and in light of that should not be done if you are in two minds about having children in the future. However, if you have already undergone a vasectomy, a reversal may be an option for you to consider.

If you would like to find out more about what is involved in a vasectomy reversal, you should consult with a qualified urologist to discuss the procedure and any other options that may be available to you.