What Is a Vasectomy Reversal?
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure for sterilizing a male. It involves cutting and tying off the vasa deferentia or transport tubes leading from where sperm is produced to where semen collects for ejaculation. A vasectomy reversal is the surgical means of undoing this procedure. By reconnecting a man’s sperm production with his semen, a vasectomy reversal reestablishes the normal male procreative function.
When successful, a vasectomy reversal provides a man with new opportunities to father children. The urology team at Baptist Health can help you decide if that’s the right step for you.
What Motivations Exist for Reversing a Vasectomy?
Why would a man who has undergone a vasectomy choose to reverse the procedure? There are several possible reasons:
- A change in mind about wanting to have children
- A desire to start a new family after the loss of a spouse or partner
- The unexpected death of a child born prior to the vasectomy
- A desire to start over after romantic disappointment or divorce
- The achievement of financial security as a basis for family
- A desire to end testicle pain, one of vasectomy’s occasional negative outcomes.
How Effective Is a Vasectomy Reversal?
The effectiveness of a vasectomy reversal depends a great deal on individual circumstances. The ability of you and your partner to have children relies on several factors, including your ages, levels of fertility, and whether scar tissue from the vasectomy might inhibit the movement of sperm from the testicles, even if the vasa deferentia have been reconnected. The period of time it takes for sperm to reenter semen might be as long as one year. One estimate of the pregnancy success rate for couples after a vasectomy reversal ranges from 30 to 70 percent.
What Should I Expect from a Vasectomy Reversal?
There are a number of steps that you can count on as part of a vasectomy reversal.
To prepare you for the procedure, your physician will:
- Document your medical history and conduct a physical exam
- Test your sperm count and motility for evidence of fertility
- Conduct or arrange a fertility examination for your partner.
If you and your partner appear to be good candidates for conception, your physician will proceed with the vasectomy reversal.
The procedure itself is usually performed on an outpatient basis in a hospital or surgical center. You will be given either a local or general anesthetic. There are two methods for reattaching your vasa deferentia:
- Vasovasostomy: With this method, the severed ends of each of the sperm tubes is stitched together using microsurgical techniques.
- Vasoepididymostomy: An alternative method has the vas deferens surgically attached directly to the epididymis, a small organ for storing sperm located next to each testicle. This is only done when there is evidence of damage in the vas deferens that might block the movement of sperm to semen.
Following surgery, your incision will be bandaged and wrapped in a tight-fitting garment. Ice will be applied to limit swelling.
To facilitate healing, your physician may require you to:
- Wear an athletic supporter
- Avoid bathing or showering for at least 48 hours after returning home
- Limit physical activities that impact the gonads, such as biking, jogging, or lifting heavy objects. This includes employment consisting of regular physical labor.
- Refrain from sexual intercourse or ejaculation until directed otherwise.
What Are the Risks of a Vasectomy Reversal?
A vasectomy reversal carries with it a number of medical risks:
- Infection: There is risk of infection with any invasive surgery. That said, the risk is relatively minor with a vasectomy reversal.
- Scrotal bleeding: A more serious risk is the possibility of bleeding, which can lead to swelling and a hematoma or pooling of blood inside the scrotum. Post-surgical rest and the application of ice packs can help.
- Chronic pain: Like infection, post-operational pain is possible, though unusual in the case of a reverse vasectomy.
Learn More About Vasectomy Reversals from Baptist Health
For more information about a vasectomy reversal procedure or to schedule a urology appointment with our physicians, please contact the Baptist Health urology team.
Next Steps with MyChart
Discover MyChart, a free patient portal that combines your Baptist Health medical records into one location. Schedule appointments, review lab results, financials, and more! If you have questions, give us a call.