A vasectomy is a standard medical procedure among men who no longer wish to be able to have children. It is performed every day in the United States and across the world and is a relatively safe and affordable procedure. However, there is a subset of men who undergo the process and in months or years gain the desire to reverse their decision. Is this possible? Is there the ability to create life after a vasectomy? Yes- but with a few conditions and more time and effort to do so.
What A Vasectomy Physically Means
Vasectomies are popular among men as a form of birth control. There is even a World Vasectomy Day that is celebrated yearly in November. It is meant to be an empowering day for men while bringing awareness to what a vasectomy means and create informed conversations around the topic. To begin, one should understand what physically happens during a vasectomy and what this means for their ability to reverse it. A vasectomy can be approached from several different procedures, but the result is the vas deferens tubes in the male genitalia are cut and sealed, preventing sperm from entering the semen when a man ejaculates. This process is meant to be a permanent form of sterilization.
Changing His Mind About A Vasectomy
A vasectomy is a serious procedure. A man is typically certain that he does not want any more children when the decision is initially made, but there is always a chance for regret as time passes. Perhaps he decides another little girl would be perfect after all, or he meets a new partner and wants to have a family. There is no shame in this, and thankfully, he does have options. Although it is not a guarantee, if a man changes his mind after the fact, there is a small chance that the initial vasectomy failed. It is less than one percent but worth confirming before discussing a reversal.
Men Can Reverse The Procedure, But Success Varies
The spectacular news about male vasectomies is that they can be reversed, although it depends on individual cases. Time is a factor, so, therefore, it is best to have a reversal done as soon as possible. In general, eighty percent of men are able to reverse the procedure surgically and have their sperm return to their semen. Certain methods and specialists boast rates as high as ninety-eight percent, as well. Even after reversal, it is important to note that pregnancy itself may bring its own difficulties. Many couples have difficulty becoming pregnant with or without a vasectomy having ever occurred.
It Is Expensive
The first step is to contact one's insurance company to see if they will pay for vasectomy reversal, as only a few will offer coverage for a non-life threatening procedure. The cost of vasectomy removal can be high, but many men find this cost to be well worth it for the chance of having another child again. The next step is to see a surgeon in synchronicity with the man's finances and medical needs. Costs range from $2,000-$12,000, depending on the surgeon, location, practice, and how much effort needs to be done to restore the vas deferens tubes properly. If insurance covers even a portion of this cost, the total spent out-of-pocket will be much lower for the patient.
Time Is Tied To Reversal Success
A vasectomy can be reversed after a long period of time (some after twenty-five years), but patients experience a higher success rate if the procedure is done sooner. The reversal is possible because male sperm is continually produced after the initial vasectomy, it is just unable to join the semen and impregnate a woman. However, the body does change after surgery, and this can mean that with time, it is impossible to put the vas deferens back into its proper place. There may be scarring that could prevent the reversal from being entirely successful. Scarring that can occur after the reversal has taken place may prevent the sperm from rejoining the semen, thus rendering the man permanently sterile.
Two Methods of Reversal
The primary objective of reversing a male vasectomy is to rejoin the vas deferens tube so the sperm can reach the semen and ejaculate outwardly during orgasm. There are two methods of doing this: a vasovasostomy and a vasoepididymostomy. During a vasovasostomy, the surgeon will sew the vas deferens tube from the testes to the penis back together; this is a straightforward reversal of the original procedure if it is able to work. A vasoepididymostomy is more difficult and is used only if a vasovasostomy is unlikely to work. In this process, the surgeon will attach the vas deferens tube to the small organ at the back of each testicle that houses sperm.
Pain and Recovery Times
The reversal procedure is more difficult than the average vasectomy. Patients are given a general anesthesia, so they are not awake and do not feel anything during the process. Reversal takes an average of two hours, and patients typically leave the clinic or hospital the same day. Recovery takes approximately two weeks and comes with some side effects, like any operation. There is a possibility of bleeding in the scrotum, which may lead to painful swelling and infection that likely can be treated with doctor monitoring and antibiotics. There is also a risk for severe or persistent pain, in which case a patient should see their doctor immediately. It will take a four to six months before a doctor is able to tell if the reversal was a success, and the sperm has returned after a vasectomy removal and longer for full potency and pregnancy to occur.
See a Specialist
Many general doctors and surgeons perform the vasectomy reversal procedure every day. However, more difficult cases may require the touch of a specialist. This may also be true for men in general, as some cases are not known to be difficult until the surgery is already underway. Men will want to seek out a surgeon who has experience in every possibility and able to fix the vasectomy reversal on the first try- as men might not have a second chance to do so. The most important question to ask the surgeon is if they have performed this procedure regularly and successfully. Asking for past patients' testimonies is also a smart practice. The first try at reversal is the best for success.
Before Vasectomy, Consider Sperm Banking Or Alternatives
If a patient is considering a vasectomy, it is best to consider the options carefully before proceeding. A vasectomy is not guaranteed to be reversible, and it is possible that lifestyle changes and other factors may cause a patient to regret their decision later in life. There are many options to consider before moving forward with a vasectomy. A male patient may wish to consider sperm banking before he goes under the knife for a vasectomy procedure. Sperm banking is the process of saving the male sperm and freezing it, preserving the sperm for potential future use to impregnate a woman and have additional children. Sperm banking is an ever-growing option as there are many other contraceptive procedures available today. These include having one's tubes tied (for females), IUDs, implants, patches, and condoms.
If the vasectomy reversal procedure is not an option or was unsuccessful, there are additional options available for patients looking to have children after the fact. If a male patient chose sperm banking before undergoing the initial vasectomy, this sperm could be used to attempt an in-vitro pregnancy. If he did not, many couples still try surgical sperm retrieval from the man, sperm donors combined with in-vitro fertilization, egg donors, surrogates, fostering and adoption. The inability to reverse a vasectomy does not mean the end of a loving and rewarding family; it simply means an additional challenge to ensure each patient gets exactly what he wants out of life despite a setback. Luckily, the modern world has many, many options for reversing a vasectomy or choosing what to do afterward to grow one's family.