Vasectomy reversal: Surgery to undo a vasectomy
Vasectomy reversal: Surgery to undo a vasectomy
Vasectomy reversal is surgery to undo a vasectomy. It reconnects the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present in the semen and you may be able to get your partner pregnant.
Reported pregnancy rates after vasectomy reversal range from 40 to 90 percent. Many factors affect whether a reversal is successful, including the type of vasectomy you had, and the experience of the doctor doing the reversal surgery.
Why it's done
Men decide to have a vasectomy reversal for a number of reasons, including loss of a child, remarriage or improved finances making it feasible to raise a child. A small number of men have a vasectomy reversal to treat testicular pain that may be linked to vasectomy.
Almost all vasectomies can be reversed. However, this doesn't guarantee success in conceiving a child. Vasectomy reversal can be attempted even if several years have passed since the original vasectomy — but the longer it's been, the less likely it is that the reversal will work.
Vasectomy reversal rarely leads to serious complications. Risks include:
How you prepare
When considering vasectomy reversal, here are a few of things to think about:
When choosing a doctor, don't be afraid to ask questions about how many vasectomy reversals the doctor has done, the type of techniques used and how often the vasectomy reversals have resulted in pregnancy. Also ask about the risks and potential complications of the procedure.
Make sure you know what steps you need to take before surgery. Your doctor will probably ask you to:
What you can expect
Doctors usually perform vasectomy reversals at a surgery center or hospital. The procedure is generally done on an outpatient basis — without an overnight stay.
Your doctor may use general anesthetics to make you unconscious during surgery. Or your surgeon may give you an anesthetic that keeps you from feeling pain, but doesn't put you to sleep — such as an epidural, spinal or local anesthetic.
Vasectomy reversal is more difficult than vasectomy. It requires specialized skills and expertise. Doctors can perform this surgery in one of two ways:
You probably won't know ahead of time which technique is needed. In most cases, the surgeon decides during the operation which technique will work best. Sometimes a combination of the two surgical techniques is needed — a vasovasostomy on one side and a vasoepididymostomy on the other.
During the procedure
If the fluid is thick or pasty, or if it contains no sperm or partial sperm, scar tissue may be blocking sperm flow. In this case, your doctor may choose to perform a vasoepididymostomy.
You may be sore for several days. If your doctor places bandages after your surgery, ask when it's OK to take them off. Any stitches should dissolve in seven to 10 days.
After you return home, take it easy. Periodically using an ice pack on your scrotum will help reduce swelling. As the anesthetic wears off, you may have some pain and cramping. For most men, the pain isn't severe and gets better after a few days to a week.
Your doctor may also give you the following instructions:
Talk to your doctor about whether freezing sperm may be an option for you. Ask about the possible benefits and cost of the procedure. It isn't always available, and doctors have differing opinions about its effectiveness.
A vasectomy reversal reconnects the severed vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from each testicle. During a vasectomy reversal, the severed ends of the vas deferens are reattached to one ...
About six weeks after surgery, your doctor will examine your semen under a microscope to see if the operation was successful. To collect a semen sample, your doctor will have you masturbate and ejaculate into a container.
Your doctor may want to check your semen every two to three months. Unless you get your partner pregnant, checking your semen for sperm is the only way to tell if your vasectomy reversal was a success.
When a vasectomy reversal is successful, sperm usually appear in the semen after a few months, but it can sometimes take a year or more. Vasectomy reversal leads to pregnancy in about half of couples within two years.
If vasectomy reversal doesn't work
You may also be able to father a child through in vitro fertilization by using frozen sperm retrieved during your vasectomy reversal. If you didn't have sperm frozen or your frozen sperm aren't viable, in vitro fertilization may still be possible using sperm retrieved directly from your testicle with a needle.
Last Updated: 2013-02-09
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