Vasectomy, like female tubal ligation, is intended to be a permanent form of birth control. Although intended to be permanent both male and female sterilization can be reversed.
Most men who have had a vasectomy will never consider having the procedure reversed; however, some will experience vasectomy regret and consider a reversal. The most common reasons for reversing a vasectomy are divorce and remarriage, desiring more children, or the death of a child.
Other reasons men have reversal are to undue a previous decision which was made at a difficult time in their life, religious convictions, and for treatment of Post Vasectomy Pain Syndrome.
Success of vasectomy reversal
The single largest predictor of vasectomy reversal success is the length of time which has elapsed since the vasectomy was performed. The success of vasectomy reversal in restoring sperm to the ejaculate can be as high as 97%.
Vasectomy reversal success: Time is the single most important factor
The time which has elapsed after the vasectomy if the most important factor on the success of the reversal procedure.
Sperm are continually produced in the epididymis after a vasectomy and travel up the vas deferens. After a vasectomy, the sperm will be trapped in the lower portion of the vas deferens with no egress. These sperm will slowly be recycled and reabsorbed by the man's body but this process will increase the pressure in the lower end of the vas deferens and the epididymis. This backpressure can cause gradual changes in the epididymis which can either cause additional blockages or can gradually cause the epididymis to become dysfunctional.
After vasectomy and with the passage of time these changes can become more pronounced and can decrease the success of vasectomy reversal.
Reversal less than 3 years of vasectomy, reversal success is 97%
Reversal within 3 to 8 years of vasectomy, reversal success rate is 91%
Reversal within 9 to 14 years of vasectomy, reversal success rate is 82%
Reversal 14 years or more after vasectomy, reversal success rate is 69%
The average success of restoring sperm to the ejaculate of all vasectomy reversal procedures is approximately 85%.
How is vasectomy reversed?
Vasectomy is often reversed as an outpatient procedure using an approach similar to the initial vasectomy procedure.
One or two openings are made in the scrotal skin. The divided ends of each vas deferens are found and surgically exposed. The intervening scar tissue is removed and the closed ends are opened. The opened ends are then rejoined under magnification and using microsurgical techniques and fine, permanent suture.
Vasectomy reversal is often a delicate procedure. Since the inside of each vas deferens is small in caliber a vasectomy reversal requires more time than does a vasectomy. In general the average vasectomy reversal will last between two (2) to three (3) hours.
Most men can return to light duty work within several days and can resume normal sexual activity by the third week after the vasectomy reversal procedure.
Important facts about vasectomy reversal
Most men will have a successful vasectomy reversal. The time since vasectomy is the most important predictor of the success of the reversal procedure. Most vasectomy reversal patients who are intentionally trying to father a child will do so within the first twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months after having their vasectomy reversed.