Vasectomy reversal is surgery to undo a vasectomy. It re-connects the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. After successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present and you may be able to get your partner pregnant. Vasectomy reversal works for most men, but for some men vasectomy reversal isn't successful.
Why it's done
Men decide to have a vasectomy reversal for a number of reasons, including loss of a child, remarriage, or improved finances making it feasible to raise a child. Vasectomy reversal can be attempted even if several years have passed since the original vasectomy — but the longer it's been, the less likely it is to work. A small number of men have a vasectomy reversal to treat testicular pain that may be linked to vasectomy.
Vasectomy reversal rarely leads to serious complications. Risks include:
Call your doctor if you develop any of these signs and symptoms after a vasectomy reversal:
How you prepare
When considering vasectomy reversal and choosing a surgeon, here are a few of things to consider:
After choosing a doctor, meet with him or her to discuss the procedure, risks and potential complications. Include your partner in this meeting, if possible. Don't be afraid to ask questions about how many vasectomy reversals the doctor has done, the type of techniques used and how often the vasectomy reversals have resulted in pregnancy.
Make sure you know what steps you need to take before surgery. Your doctor will probably ask you to:
What you can expect
Doctors usually perform vasectomy reversals at a surgery center or at a hospital. The procedure is generally done on an outpatient basis — without an overnight stay.
Your doctor may use general anesthetics to make you unconscious during surgery. Or, your surgeon may give you an anesthetic that keeps you from feeling pain, but doesn't put you to sleep — such as an epidural, spinal or local anesthetic.
Vasectomy reversal is more difficult than vasectomy. It requires specialized skills and expertise. Doctors can perform this surgery in one of two ways:
You probably won't know ahead of time which technique is needed. In most cases, the surgeon decides during the operation which technique will work best. Sometimes a combination of the two surgical techniques is needed — a vasovasostomy on one side and a vasoepididymostomy on the other.
During the procedure
After you return home, take it easy. Periodically using an ice pack on your scrotum will help reduce swelling. As the anesthetic wears off, you may have some pain and cramping. For most men, the pain isn't severe and gets better after a few days to a week.
You may be sore for several days. You may also have bruising that will disappear after about two weeks. Any stitches should dissolve in seven to 10 days.
A vasectomy reversal reconnects the severed vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from each testicle. During a vasectomy reversal, the severed ends of the vas deferens are reattached to one ...
About six weeks after surgery, your doctor will examine your semen under a microscope to see if the operation was successful. To collect a semen sample, your doctor will have you masturbate and ejaculate into a container. It's also possible to collect sperm for examination during intercourse, using a special condom. Your doctor may want to check your semen every two to three months. Unless you get your partner pregnant, checking your semen for sperm is the only way to tell if your vasectomy reversal was a success.
When a vasectomy reversal is successful, sperm usually appear in the semen after a few months, but it can sometimes take a year or more. Vasectomy reversal leads to pregnancy in about half of couples within two years.
If vasectomy reversal doesn't work
You may also be able to father a child by using frozen sperm retrieved during your vasectomy reversal through in vitro fertilization. If you didn't have sperm frozen or your frozen sperm doesn't work, in vitro fertilization may still be possible using sperm retrieved directly from your testicle with a needle.
Last Updated: 2011-01-12
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