So…I hike a trail most every evening after work and on the weekends that takes about an hour. My vasectomy reversal coordinator Kathy get several calls a day about scheduling either a reversal or a free consultation about arranging for a reversal. Many of our patient live a long way away and ask, “Can I speak to the doctor by phone?”
Kathy routinely says, “Can he call you between 5 and 6 tonight?”
The interested couple most commonly says, “Yes. Perfect.”
So last night Kathy gives me two people to call who have an interest in reversing their vasectomy. The second patient I call asked the question, “My wife and I got pregnant very quickly. I mean one the first try. Does this mean that we’ll get pregnant just as quickly after the reversal?”
Good question and very similar to this common question, “Will the reversal surgery be like the vasectomy?”
Regarding the latter, the reversal takes approximately two and half hours, a vasectomy less than 15 minutes. So no a vasectomy is not like a reversal.
Regarding the former question: the issue is not that you and your partner are very fertile, the success of the reversal depends on the experience of the surgeon and the time interval since the vasectomy.
The perfect scenario? A short time since the vasectomy and a urologist who does reversals microscopically often. It does not hurt that the wife was fertile, that is good. For the male however the production of good sperm suitable for pregnancy decrease as time elapses since the vasectomy.
It was a good question and I hope this helps you understand the nuances of a microscopic vasectomy reversal. You might check out this internal site link.
Although vasectomies should be viewed as a permanent form of birth control, there may be certain circumstances in which a man desires to have his vasectomy reversed. If this is the case, questions might arise about how long it takes for a vasectomy reversal to result in pregnancy.
There are no definitive answers. Research indicates that, if a reversal is successful, it can take anywhere from three months to several years for couples to get pregnant. Up to 75 percent of all vasectomy reversals ultimately lead to natural pregnancies, with over half occurring in the first two years.
However, there are several factors that impact whether conception will occur and how quickly:
Type of vasectomy reversal procedure: The type of vasectomy reversal procedure a man has will impact reversal success and pregnancy outcomes. Men who have a vasovasostomy — the shorter and simpler of the two types of reversal procedures — tend to have higher success rates than those who have undergone a vasoepididymostomy. The vasoepididymostomy is a more complicated procedure, and is performed when a surgeon believes that the vas deferens tube is blocked closer to the testicle, in a coiled part of the vas deferens known as the epididymis. Because patients who have had a vasoepididymostomy tend to have longer periods of impaired sperm motility, it tends to take longer for their partner to conceive.
Time since the vasectomy procedure: The amount of time between the original vasectomy procedure and the vasectomy reversal also affects the length of time it will take to conceive. In general, higher success rates have been reported when the reversal is performed closer to the original vasectomy procedure, especially if less than five years. After 10 years of a vasectomy, pressure within the vas deferens can cause a rupture or blockage in the epididymis. This blockage requires the micro-surgeon to perform a more difficult vas-to-epididymis reconstruction, which causes the success rate to decrease.
Maternal and Paternal Age: If a woman is over 35, her hormone levels and ovulation cycles may be harder to predict; if a man is over 50, the quality or concentration of his sperm may slightly decrease. Both of these can increase the amount of time to conception. Talk to your urologist about which alternative methods for conception, such as in vitro fertilization, might be an option.
What It Boils Down To
There is no perfect way to predict when, or if, a couple will be able to get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal. But talking to a doctor can help couples understand their own personal chances of success, which obstacles may stand in the way of conception, and whether a reversal is the right choice.
Reviewed December 4, 2012, by Larry Lipshultz, MD – Urologist
Busato, W.F. (2009). Vasectomy reversal: A seven year experience. Urologia Internationalis, 82(2), 170-174.
Graham, S.D., & Keane, T.E. (2009). Glenn’s urologic surgery. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Labrecque, M., Durfresne, C., Baone, M.A., & St-Hilaire, K. (2004). Vasectomy surgical techniques: A systematic review. BMC Medicine, 2, 21-32.
Palkhivala, A. (2006). Vasectomy reversal: Data point to choice of technique. Urology Times, 43(2), 23, 41.
The decision to reverse a vasectomy should be considered carefully by each couple. As a woman, you may have special concerns that are difficult to express.
Vasectomy reversal (and the microsurgery involved) raises questions for both men and women. Although men need to be forthcoming about any questions, concerns and fears they share with their physician, it is just as important for women to be informed and reassured about the procedure. You may be surprised to know that many women share the apprehensions about reversal surgery that you may have.
Candid questions, correct information, and the assurance of an experienced urologist are the keys to feeling more comfortable and sure about the decision you and your spouse have made to have a vasectomy reversal. Make a list of the questions that concern you most before meeting with your doctor.
Here are some of the questions women commonly ask:
“This is my first marriage– and his second. Will my spouse’s older age affect the health of his sperm or our babies born after his reversal?”
Generally speaking, a man who has healthy sperm can reasonably expect to father a healthy child. A man’s age does not affect fetal development the way a woman’s does. But time does have an impact on successful conception.
The longer the amount of time between a man’s vasectomy and his reversal, the less potent he may become. This is why: After a vasectomy, unreleased sperm collect in the testicles before being absorbed by the body. The body responds to the unspent sperm with a reaction that can affect, to some degree, sperm quality and health. Over time, this reaction can gradually reduce the mans sperm count, and impair sperm motility.
A successful reversal that results in pregnancy is proof that the man has a healthy, adequate sperm count. The course of pregnancy that follows a vasectomy reversal should be as normal as any other pregnancy. A vasectomy reversal merely restores sperm to the seminal fluid. It should not affect the health of an unborn baby in any way, no matter how old the man is at the time of his reversal.
“Will a vasectomy reversal affect a man’s ejaculation?”
Sperm is only a tiny portion of the seminal fluid that is released at ejaculation. Just as a vasectomy does not change the volume, color, or consistency of the ejaculate, neither does a vasectomy reversal. Sperm are impossible to detect in seminal fluid without the use of a microscope. The quality, intensity and duration of a mans orgasm and ejaculate will not change after a reversal.
“How long will it be until my spouse and I can resume sex?”
Physicians usually advise that it is best to wait three or four weeks following the reversal procedure before returning to sexual activity. It will take additional time before sperm returns to the ejaculate.
“Does the vasectomy reversal procedure leave scars?”
Despite the greater complexity and time involved in a vasectomy reversal procedure, there is usually no lasting or noticeable difference to the feel or appearance of the scrotum.
“How soon can I expect to get pregnant?”
If reversal is successful and healthy sperm rejoin the seminal fluid, it may take 12 months, on average, to achieve pregnancy. The range, from reversal to conception, is between one and 82 months. Most couples achieve pregnancy within a year.
“Can I and should I be examined and tested for fertility first, before we decide on a reversal?”
Since many couples consider reversal surgery a costly matter, women often do choose to consult with their own physicians or fertility specialists first, to determine whether there is any question or doubt about the woman’s ability to conceive and complete a healthy pregnancy.
“How long will my husband be in pain, and what can I do to help?”
You can expect your husband to experience some degree of discomfort and swelling in the first three to five days following reversal surgery. A gradually decreasing ache in the scrotal region will follow and may last for three to four weeks. His attention to doctors orders during the recovery process, lots of ice and rest, and your tender loving care will be the best medicine for your husband.
“Does a vasectomy reversal make you more, or less, susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases?”
Vasectomy and vasectomy reversal surgery do not protect couples from the risk of transmitting or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. These diseases are transferred in body fluids, such as saliva or semen. Both men and women should use condoms if any potential risk of sexually transmitted disease exists.
“How old is ‘too old’ for a couple considering vasectomy reversal?”
Men can remain potent and father children even after the age of 70. However, a man may not want or be able to parent a new child at a later stage of life. The older you are, the fewer the years that you have left in which to raise an infant to adulthood. And older couples often have more health problems as they age.
“My husband does not want more surgery-he says that sperm aspiration is easier and just as effective as vasectomy reversal. Is it?”
A vasectomy reversal, performed under general anesthesia, is virtually painless, more natural and more likely to result in pregnancy than an assisted reproductive technique (ART) that begin with sperm aspiration as the first step. Besides a lower rate of success, ARTs have much higher costs, involve a greater number of complex, uncomfortable procedures, and take considerably more time than that required to perform a comparatively simple and safe reversal.
In a straight comparison, reversal surgery is preferable to ART and should be considered first, unless conception and pregnancy cannot be achieved any other way.
“What if we just want one child. Would not sperm retrieval and in vitro fertility be more efficient?”
Not necessarily. The rate of multiple order births–twins or triplets–is several times higher with in vitro fertility than with natural conception following a vasectomy reversal. The risk of having twins with IVF is 20 to 50 percent depending on which IVF center one is treated at.
A vasectomy should be considered permanent, so have reasonable expectations about the success of reversal surgery. Be informed and discuss all your options with your spouse and your physician.
Some men or couples may not be well suited or economically prepared for a vasectomy reversal or second family, particularly if either partner is over the age of 40 or in poor health. Vasectomy reversal microsurgery is often evaluated as a first course option; generally preferable to assisted reproductive techniques for many couples.
The vas deferens closest to the testicle and just before the epididymis is the convoluted portion of the vas. As you see above the vas then “straightens out” the further you get away from the testicle.
Above you see the “old vasectomy” site marked and it is in the mid scrotal area and in the straight not convoluted portion of the vas. This is the ideal location for the reversal doctor because it is away from the inguinal area and up from the smaller and more difficult to isolated convoluted portion.
Although you can feel the vasectomy site through the scrotal skin preoperatively, you really cannot tell where in the course of the vas it actually is.
Recently I performed a reversal and both sides of the vasectomy site were in the convoluted portion of the vas and close to the epididymis. This required more dissection to reach and it is tricky to get a portion of the convoluted vas to reconnect that is straight (as opposed to curved away from the other side of the vas).
So yes if the person who did the vasectomy happened to do it in the middle, that is away from the inguinal area as well as away from the convoluted portion of the vas then the procedure is much easier to locate, to prepare for the reversal, and to perform the reversal.
You might ask, ” Why wouldn’t every urologist make a point to do the vasectomy in the best position in case a reversal has to be done years later.”
Well a reasonable enough question but there are two factors to consider as to why urologists don’t think this way.
Vasectomies are usually done in the office under local anesthesia and depending on the patient and the patient’s scrotal anatomy…he gets the vas where he can get it…i.e. sometimes you can’t pick and choose a site the patient’s anatomy dictates that.
Also, the vasectomy is supposed to be considered permanent and the primary goal is a good vasectomy and prevention of pregnancy. Vasectomies are not and probably should not be done with the idea in mind that the patient will reverse it.
In my practice if I were asked to do the vasectomy so it could be more easily reversed, I’d probably tell the couple to re consider a vasectomy until they felt it was permanent and they had no plans for further children.
Having said that, a urologist can try to make a point to be “in the middle” but as I mentioned sometimes you take the vasectomy site where the patient’s scrotum gives it to you.
The following is from a vasectomy reversal doctor in England. The process is similar to but not exactly the same as at Georgia Vasectomy Reversal, however it is informative and adds to the data base of the couple contemplating a vasectomy reversal.
Vasectomy reversal myths debunked
If you decide to undergo a vasectomy reversal, having accurate information at your fingertips will ensure you are as informed as possible. Here are some of the most popular myths associated with reversing a vasectomy.
If you’re too old, you can’t have a vasectomy reversal
The reality is, a vasectomy reversal can be performed at any age, so long as an individual is healthy enough to undergo the treatment.
A vasectomy reversal rarely works after 10 years
This is a popular misconception and is based on outdated studies. Modern techniques used today have increased the vasectomy reversal success rate even if the original vasectomy was performed years ago. Even after about 20 years, you still stand an 84% chance of success following a vasectomy reversal.
Anti-sperm antibodies cause infertility even after a vasectomy reversal
It is widely believed that anti-sperm antibodies attack healthy sperm following a reversal and can cause infertility. In actual fact, antibodies are present in the blood and not in sperm following a vasectomy reversal, so are normally not responsible for any fertility problems that may arise following the procedure.
IVF is a better option than vasectomy reversal
You will need to weigh up the pros and cons of choosing IVF or vasectomy reversal, but there are many benefits to choosing reversing a vasectomy over IVF. For starters, a vasectomy reversal is a quick, single procedure that has good success rates, enabling you to conceive a baby naturally. In contrast, IVF is a gruelling process that often requires several attempts to increase the chance of success. The cost of a vasectomy reversal is also much lower compared to IVF procedures. Bear in mind also that there is a greater chance of multiple pregnancies when opting for IVF, so if you are only hoping for one baby, a vasectomy reversal is easily a better option.
Vasectomy reversal successes are the same whoever you choose
This is not the case at all. Doctors and standards vary, so if you want to achieve the best results possible choose a surgeon who is specialised in vasectomy reversal and has extensive experience. Mr Harriss has many years of experience and is available to answer any questions that you may have.
A lot of couples debate which of the two major methods of having a child after vasectomy they should pursue. Often times it is a decision based on cost. For that couple wanting to do IVF first, this study shows no significant scarring as a result of the aspiration and no significant negative effect to a successful vasectomy reversal.
Vasectomy Reversal Possible After PESA
Urology – July 30, 2008 – Vol. 24 – No. 07
Vasectomy reversal is possible after percutaneous sperm aspiration.
Article Reviewed: Results of Vasovasostomy or Vasoepididymostomy After Failed Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspirations. Marmar JL, Sharlip I, Goldstein M: J Urol; 2008; 179 (April): 1506-1509.
Results of Vasovasostomy or Vasoepididymostomy After Failed Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspirations.
Background: 4% to 6% of men consider having children after vasectomy. Choices are either vasectomy reversal or sperm aspiration for in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF-ICSI). Percutaneous sperm aspiration (PESA) is one way for sperm retrieval, but the degree of epididymal damage is unknown. The request for microsurgical reconstruction after failed PESA is limited.
Objective: To investigate the ability to perform vasectomy reversal after failed PESA-IVF-ICSI. Design: Retrospective study involving a specialized subset of patients who requested and underwent a vasectomy reversal after PESA. Participants: 8 patients who failed 1 to 4 attempts at IVF-ICSI with sperm retrieved by PESA. Methods: Patients were identified from the records of 3 experienced infertility microsurgeons. The side of the PESA was determined. Vasovasostomy (VV) or vasoepididymostomy (VE) was performed based on standard of care–intraoperative fluid from the testicular end of the vas. Two-layer VV or end-to-side/2-stitch VE was performed. Postoperative semen analysis was performed at 3-month intervals. Results: All patients had bilateral PESAs performed. Of the 8 patients, 4 had no apparent abnormality to the caput of the epididymis, 2 had small blue cysts at the caput, and 2 had small areas (<0.5 cm) that appeared necrotic or ischemic. No specific puncture site for the PESA could be seen at the time of reconstruction. Ten of 16 vasal units had sperm in the testicular end of the vas at the time of vasectomy reversal. Six of 16 vasal units had pasty fluid and required VE, and 1 patient had a bilateral VE. The time from vasectomy was from 15 to 22 years. All patients postoperatively had sperm in the ejaculate from 1 to 200 million/cc, with 15% to 90% motility. Surgery resulted in 4 pregnancies leading to deliveries. Conclusions: PESA caused only limited trauma to the epididymis with 87.5% of patients able to have a vasovasostomy on at least one side.Vasoepididymostomy was more likely related to the duration from vasectomy than due to scarring from PESA. Reviewer’s Comments: This paper reports on an important question about a simple percutaneous procedure to retrieve sperm for IVF-ICSI. A select group of men will want to undergo vasectomy reversal after a failed IVF-ICSI cycle. This paper answers the concern about possible scarring from PESA–it does not appear to. The technique did not differ in outcome despite 3 different surgeons involved for both PESA and reversals. The study is, of course, limited by the small number, but this surgery is not performed very often. The ability to bypass/avoid scarring at the epididymis may be related to several ducts coming from the rete testes to become efferent ducts before becoming a single tubule. The caput is often the target for PESA; therefore, if any scarring occurs, then the other efferent ducts may provide sperm down the epididymis. (Reviewer–Ajay K. Nangia, MBBS).
In addition to the skill of the surgeon, the character of the fluid at the time of the reversal, and years since the vasectomy…the age of the female is an important factor in achieving pregnancy.
What Affects Pregnancy, Patency Rates After Vasectomy Reversal?
Urology – October 30, 2015 – Vol. 33 – No. 4
The Silber grading scale appears to dictate pregnancy rates after vasectomy reversal with increasing female age being a negative predictive factor.
Article Reviewed: Impact on Pregnancy of Gross and Microscopic Vasal Fluid During Vasectomy Reversal. Ostrowski KA, Polackwich AS, et al: J Urol; 2015;194 (July): 156-159.
Background: The examination of the vasal fluid at the time of vasectomy reversal has implications for surgical decision making with effects on patency and pregnancy rates. The Silber grading system characterizes these findings and has been used to help surgeons with the decision to perform vasovasostomy (VV) or the more technically challenging vasoepididymostomy (VE).
Objective: To determine both intraoperative and patient factors that affect pregnancy rates after vasectomy reversal.
Design: Retrospective review of prospectively maintained database.
Methods: This paper reviewed the results of a single surgeon series that encompassed >30 years of vasectomy reversals. Vasal fluid was characterized as opalescent, creamy, pasty or clear and intraoperative light microscopy was used determined if sperm parts were present or motile. Univariate and multivariate analysis examined the data set for significant factors that affected pregnancy rates.
Results: 2947 vasectomy reversals were included in the analysis. Pregnancy status was only known for 31% of these cases. Bilateral VV was performed 83% of the time and most patients fell into a Silber 1 to 3 classification. No factors met statistical significance for increasing the pregnancy rate, although the presence of motile sperm was almost significant (P =0.075).
Negative predictive factors for pregnancy were identified on multivariate analysis with increasing female age and the findings of either no sperm (odds ratio [OR], 0.08) or sperm heads only (OR, 0.46) on microscopy decreasing pregnancy rates. Rarely were sperm parts identified when pasty fluid was encountered.
Conclusions: The findings from this paper echo the findings of the Vasovasostomy study group, with the Silber grading system essentially dictating pregnancy rates.
Reviewer’s Comments: The decision to perform VV or VE can be a difficult one and is based on many factors including findings from the vasal fluid, time since vasectomy, and surgeon skill level. Few papers have examined this decision-making algorithm since the landmark paper by the Vasovasostomy study group in 1991. While most microsurgeons prefer VV to VE due to increased patency and pregnancy rates, the need to perform a VE is generally encouraged when pasty fluid or no sperm parts are found in the vas at the time of reversal. These findings are interesting and are another important addition to the literature. Unfortunately, despite the authors’ efforts, relatively few predictive factors were found. Their findings do somewhat parallel those published by the Vasovasostomy study group, wherein the Silber grading system appears to correlate with pregnancy rates. The authors identified sperm heads only (Silber 4) or no sperm (Silber 5) as negative predictors with motile sperm (Silber 1) almost achieving statistical significance as a positive factor.(Reviewer–Charles Welliver, MD).
All methods of performing a vasectomy include removing a segment of the vas deferens and then doing something to close the two ends of the divided vas. Whether this is done by using electrocautery, clips, suture, or interposing tissue, the ability to remove the damaged areas of he vas ends and do the reversal is not impaired.
In general about an inch of the damaged ends of the vas tubes and scar tissue is removed at the time of a microscopic reversal. There is plenty of “play” in the vas above and below the vasectomy site to perform the reversal without tension.