Can a Vasectomy Reverse Itself?

Learn how a vasectomy can reverse itself and cause pregnancy

Vasectomy is a permanent, safe and highly effective method of birth control. Most men considering a vasectomy have decided they’ve either completed their family or don’t want to have children all together, and that a vasectomy will help them avoid an unexpected surprise down the road. However, post-vasectomy some men experience a life-changing event and decide that a vasectomy reversal may be the answer. But not only is a vasectomy reversal procedure a possibility, but what few men don’t know is that their vasectomy could naturally “reverse itself” without undergoing a surgical procedure, allowing for pregnancy to occur.

How Do Vasectomies Fail?

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, only one out of every 2,000 vasectomies are unsuccessful. To make sure you’re not one of those few, you’ll need to provide a periodic semen sample to your urologist after your vasectomy. A semen analysis is the only way to verify that ejaculated semen is free of sperm. This step confirms that your vasectomy was successful and you can stop using another form of birth control.

Occasionally, some men don’t get the “all clear” signal from their doctor after submitting several semen samples for analysis. In this case, the vasectomy didn’t reverse itself—it just was not successful. Perhaps the doctor cut one of the vas deferens (sperm tubes) twice—instead of cutting both.

The main reason that a man could impregnate a woman after undergoing a vasectomy is having unprotected sex too quickly after the procedure. Couples must use another form of birth control until the remaining sperm are cleared out of the semen. This process usually takes 3 months, and 15 to 20 ejaculations. At approximately three months, 20% of men will still have sperm in their semen and must wait longer for sperm to clear.

How Can My Vasectomy “Reverse” Itself?

Even more surprising is when a man gets the “all clear” from his doctor after the semen sample, only to learn a few months— or even years— later that there is an unexpected addition to the family. However, even if your doctor cuts each of your vas deferens during the vasectomy, the two edges can still find a way to reconnect.

Occasionally, the sperm at the edge of the vas can “leak” out, creating a mild reaction called a sperm granuloma. Studies show that sperm granulomas can reconnect the two edges of the vas deferens, allowing the sperm to make a home run towards your partner’s eggs. Since the sperm granuloma is often temporary — it usually disappears after a few weeks — some men may unknowingly have the vas edges reconnect only to disconnect once the granuloma resolves. This rare event is called recanalization and occurs in about one of every 10,000 vasectomy procedures.

The No-Scalpel Vasectomy Method

How your doctor performs your vasectomy matters. The no-scalpel vasectomy method is a safe, effective and low-risk procedure. During a no-scalpel procedure, a needle-like tool is used to make a small hole in the scrotum. The das deferens are then pulled through and cut. In addition to using the no-scalpel method, heat energy (called electrocautery) is used to seal off the vas edges. Less than 1 percent of no-scalpel vasectomy procedures result in complication.

Choosing the right doctor to perform your vasectomy decreases the chance of surprises down the road. Contact Dr. Harry Fisch in New York for a free consultation to see if a no-scalpel vasectomy procedure is right for you.

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