When undertaking a vasectomy procedure you may likely want to know your options if you decide to reverse the procedure. A vasectomy reversal procedure works by reconnecting the vas deferens, the tubes that were previously cut or blocked during a vasectomy under general anesthesia.
As success rates can vary from 40% to 90%, it is very important that those undertaking a vasectomy are certain that they no longer wish to conceive traditionally.
Please note that we ourselves do not provide vasectomy reversal procedures, but have listed a few providers at the bottom of this page should you be looking for one.
What is a vasectomy reversal?
A vasectomy reversal is a surgical procedure that reconnects the previously cut or blocked tubes (vas deferens) from a vasectomy, allowing sperm to flow again and potentially restore fertility. This is often called a vasovasostomy.
Advanced techniques using an operating microscope handled by a urological surgeon can lead to higher precision and success rates.
What happens during a vasectomy reversal?
A single incision is made in the middle part of the scrotum. This incision allows the surgeon to carefully dissect and expose both vas deferens tubes. It also enables the option of performing a vasoepididymostomy, if necessary.
Any scar tissue from the previous vasectomy is removed. The ends of the vas tubes are probed to ensure they are open and gently dilated if needed. Using a specially designed clamp, the cut ends are brought together and meticulously joined with very fine suture material, which is barely visible to the naked eye.
To strengthen the connection, a second layer of sutures may be added. Throughout the procedure, a high-powered operating microscope is utilized to enhance visualization. Finally, the skin is closed with dissolvable sutures.
In more complex cases where the vas deferens is extensively scarred or the vasectomy was performed near the testicle, a vasoepididymostomy procedure may be necessary. This involves directly connecting the vas tubes to the epididymis, which is where sperm is stored near the surface of each testicle. The decision to perform vasoepididymostomy is typically made during the surgery based on the specific conditions observed.
How successful is a vasectomy reversal?
Success rates vary based on factors such as the time since the vasectomy, the surgeon's skill, and the presence of anti-sperm antibodies. Success rates range from 40% to 90%, with higher success rates within a few years after the vasectomy.
Whilst there are surgeons who are highly skilled in this procedure, it is important to know that there are no guarantees that the procedure may work. Hence why it is all the more important you are well informed and certain about undertaking a vasectomy.
How long does the vasectomy reversal procedure take?
The procedure typically takes around 2 to 4 hours, depending on the complexity of the case. An overnight hospital stay is often recommended.
Is a vasectomy reversal painful?
The procedure is performed under anesthesia, so you won't experience pain during the surgery. However, some discomfort and swelling may be experienced during the recovery period.
What is the recovery time after a vasectomy reversal?
The recovery time varies for each individual, but typically you can expect to take it easy for a few days and avoid strenuous activities for about 2 to 3 weeks. It's important to follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions for optimal healing.
Are there any risks or complications associated with vasectomy reversal?
Like any surgery, there are potential risks and complications, although they are generally rare. These may include infection, bleeding, scarring, chronic pain, and a reduced success rate if complications or blockages are encountered during the surgery.
How soon after a vasectomy reversal can I try to conceive?
It usually takes a few months for sperm to appear in the semen following a vasectomy reversal. Once sperm is detected, you can begin trying to conceive. It's important to note that successful sperm presence doesn't guarantee pregnancy, and it may take several months or longer to achieve a pregnancy.
Can a vasectomy reversal procedure be repeated if the first one fails?
In some cases, a repeat vasectomy reversal procedure may be an option if the initial surgery fails or if subsequent blockages develop. However, the success rate may be lower with repeat procedures due to increased scarring and other factors.
Can I have another vasectomy after a reversal procedure?
Are there any alternative options to a vasectomy reversal for achieving pregnancy?
If the vasectomy reversal is not feasible or unsuccessful, alternative options for achieving pregnancy include using donor sperm, adoption, or exploring assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) with sperm retrieval techniques.
Can a vasectomy reversal relieve post-vasectomy pain syndrome?
In some cases, a vasectomy reversal may alleviate post-vasectomy pain syndrome, a condition characterized by chronic testicular pain following a vasectomy. However, relief is not guaranteed for everyone, and the success rate may vary.
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Page reviewed by Dr Praveen Jayadeva
Page written by Shannon Abraham
Last reviewed date: 29 March 2023
Next review due: 29 March 2026
Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.
References & Further Reading
- Urology Care Foundation: Vasectomy Reversal: Treatment & Information
- Mayo Clinic: Vasectomy reversal
- Stanford Health Care: Vasectomy Reversal
- Cleveland Clinic: Vasectomy Reversal: Purpose, Procedure & Success Rate
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Vasectomy Reversal