A vasectomy reversal is a surgical procedure a man undergoes in order to undo a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a method of permanent male sterilization; however, some men may consider having a reversal at some later point.
Reversal surgery involves reattaching both tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the semen (the vas deferens). You can often have a successful reversal performed, but the procedure is more complex than a vasectomy.
Reasons Men Have a Vasectomy Reversal
Since vasectomies are considered to be a permanent form of sterilization, many men don’t realize that it is possible to have them reversed.
Among men who have undergone a vasectomy, up to 10% of them later change their mind and opt to have a reversal. Some common reasons for this include a couple deciding they want children (or additional children), entering a new marriage, or following the death of a child.
The procedure can also be useful for alleviating testicular pain experienced by a small percentage of men following a vasectomy.
How a Vasectomy Is Reversed
While a vasectomy involves severing or blocking the tubes that transport sperm (called the vas deferens), a vasectomy reversal is when the vas deferens are rejoined so that the sperm can again mix with the semen during ejaculation.
There are two different methods that can be used to perform a reversal. One method is a procedure known as a vasovasostomy. This involves a doctor sewing the ends of the vas deferens back together.
A second option is a procedure called a vasoepididymostomy. This is where a doctor attaches the vas deferens to the epididymus of each testicle, which is small organ that stores sperm.
This procedure is much more complicated than a vasovasostomy. Your doctor will likely only recommend this option if you cannot have a vasovasostomy or they aren’t certain that it will work.
Vasectomy reversals are typically performed in a hospital or clinical setting on an in-patient basis. A general anesthesia will be administered so that you are not awake during the procedure.
The surgery itself usually takes between 2-4 hours. You will normally return home that same day, with a recovery time of approximately 2 weeks.
Side effects associated with a reversal procedure are rare. However, when they do occur they can include:
- Scrotal bleeding – This could cause pain and swelling. In order to prevent this, remember to follow all instructions given by your doctor before surgery and after.
- Infection – Infection is a potential risk with any form of surgery. If this happens, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection.
- Prolonged or acute pain – Contact your doctor as soon as possible if your pain doesn’t subside with over-the-counter medications.
Vasectomy Reversal Success Rate
Following a successful procedure, you may be able to conceive with your partner as sperm will be present in the semen once again. Depending on which type of vasectomy reversal is used, the odds of a pregnancy occurring after a vasectomy reversal can vary from 30-90%, or higher.
There are several factors involved that influence whether or not a vasectomy reversal will result in pregnancy. These factors include the length of time since the vasectomy, your partner’s age, the surgeon’s skill and experience, and any fertility issues that might have been present prior to your vasectomy.
You can reverse vasectomies several times. However, the success rate of the reversal may decrease with each procedure.
How To Determine If a Reversal Is Successful
If testing reveals sperm in your semen within a few months, you will know that your vasectomy reversal was successful. The doctor will continue collecting and testing samples for 4-6 months after the procedure. This allows enough time for your sperm count to stabilize.
In the case of a vasovasostomy, it could take anywhere from 6-12 months for sperm to reappear. However, if you underwent a vasoepididymostomy, it could take up to a year or more for your sperm to show up in a semen analysis.
Your chances of conceiving should also increase once your sperm has returned.
Will a Vasectomy Reversal Impact Your Sex Life?
No, a reversal should not affect your sex drive or performance. However, you shouldn’t have sex or ejaculate until your doctor gives the okay.
Most doctors recommend waiting for 2-3 weeks before having sex following reversal surgery.
Naresh Raja is an Executive Editor at The Sperm Count Report. He has more than ten years of experience writing and editing articles about health and fitness, nutrition, fatherhood, and reproductive health.