One of the more common questions that men ask when contemplating a vasectomy is whether they are reversible.
It’s an important question to ask, because committing to a vasectomy procedure is no small decision, and you should consider it a once in a lifetime decision. If you are considering the possibility of reversing a vasectomy while deciding if you should have a vasectomy, it may be worth considering your reasons for wanting a vasectomy in the first place.
But circumstances can change, so it’s good to be aware of all your options. So, to answer the question; even though vasectomies are designed to be a permanent form of contraception, they can be reversible.
But it’s not easy, and not always successful.
A Quick Recap
To understand why vasectomies are challenging but not impossible to reverse, you need to understand what happens during a vasectomy.
If you’ve already discussed this with your doctor, you probably already know the drill. A small incision is made in your scrotum to allow access to the vas (the tube that transports sperm from your testes to the ejaculatory ducts). The vas is then cut or blocked to prevent your sperm from going to your ejaculatory ducts.
The crucial thing to remember is that you don’t stop making sperm, even after your vasectomy. Your testes don’t know the difference and keep on doing what they’re good at doing; making millions and millions of sperm cells. It’s just that they are no longer ejaculated with the semen. Instead, they die and are absorbed back into the body.
So, in theory, if the vas could be reconnected, your sperm would once again be ejaculated, and you might be able to conceive a child.
I’m Considering A Reverse Vasectomy What Do I Do?
First, you should begin with a discussion with your significant other and your doctor, and decide if the risks involved warrant the attempt of trying to reverse a vasectomy.
Making that decision is probably the easiest part. The practical side of that decision is not. Rejoining the vas is not a simple procedure; it’s a complicated piece of surgery that may not be successful, even when the vas is reconnected.
What Are The Dangers?
The dangers of reversing a vasectomy shouldn’t be overlooked.
Just like any operation, there can be pain, bleeding, and a chance of infection. There’s also a small chance of long-term pain in your testicles and even a reduced sperm count over time.
But what does the operation involve? Unlike a vasectomy that can be performed in 15-20 minutes with only a local anaesthetic, a reverse vasectomy requires a general anaesthetic and usually takes an hour to 90 minutes.
Your surgeon will need to make two cuts, about 3 centimetres long, on each side of your scrotum. After examining each testicle, your surgeon will locate the ends of your vas and remove any scar tissue before using an operating microscope to stitch the ends of the vas back together.
Compared to a vasectomy, it’s a complicated procedure with no guarantee of success.
How Long Does It Take To Recover?
In most cases, you should be able to go home the same day or the day after. You won’t be able to do any strenuous exercise, like running or riding a bicycle, for 5 to 7 days. You can probably return to work after about a week unless your job involves strenuous exercise. In that case, you might need to stay off work for up to 3 weeks.
Regular light exercise can help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask your doctor or the performing surgeon for their advice.
When Will I Know If The Operation Was Successful?
You’ll be asked by your doctor to give them a sample of your semen after 6 to 8 weeks. The sample will be tested to discover to see if there is any sperm in the semen. If not, then it’s likely that the operation wasn’t successful.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the chance of pregnancy after a reverse vasectomy range between 30% to over 90%. Many factors can affect whether a reversal is successful, including the time since your vasectomy, you and your partner’s age, and whether or not you had fertility issues before your vasectomy.
Are There Alternatives To A Reverse Vasectomy?
One option is to have your sperm frozen (cryopreservation) before you have a vasectomy. If you’re not able to father a child through sexual intercourse, you might still be able to have children using IFV treatment.
Beyond that, if you and your partner still want children, you could always consider using donor sperm in replace of your own, or even adoption.
The answer is simple; yes, it is possible to reverse a vasectomy. But, because of the dangers involved, and the potential of it being unsuccessful, a reversal surgery should not be considered lightly. Understanding the risks of this surgery, should be an active part of any considerations someone makes when considering to have a vasectomy in the first place.