Vasectomy is minor surgery to block sperm from reaching the semen that is ejaculated from the penis. Semen still exists, but it has no sperm in it. After a vasectomy the testes still make sperm, but they are soaked up by the body.
Over 500,000 men in the U.S. choose vasectomy for birth control each year. A vasectomy prevents pregnancy better than any other method of birth control, besides abstinence. Only 1 to 2 women out of 1,000 will get pregnant in the year after their partners have had a vasectomy.
Vasectomy reversal reconnects the pathway for the sperm to get into the semen. Most often, the cut ends of the vas are reattached. In some cases, the ends of the vas are joined to the epididymis. These surgeries can be done under a special microscope ("microsurgery"). When the tubes are joined, sperm can again flow through the urethra.
Vasectomy reversal surgery usually takes from 2 to 4 hours, followed by a few more hours for recovery from the anesthetic. You can expect to go home the same day.
Pain may be mild to moderate. You should be able to resume normal activities, including sex, within 3 weeks.
Vasectomy Reversal Success Factors
Chances of a successful vasectomy reversal decline over time. Reversals are more successful during the first 10 years after vasectomy.
In general, vasectomy reversal:
- Leads to overall pregnancy rates of greater than 50%.
- Has the greatest chance of success within 3 years of the vasectomy.
- Leads to pregnancy only about 30% of the time if the reversal is done 10 years after vasectomy.
Risks of vasectomy
Risks of vasectomy reversal include:
- Infection at the site of surgery.
- Fluid buildup in the scrotum (hydrocele) that may require draining.
- Injury to the arteries or nerves in the scrotum.