Vasectomy Reversal Success Rates after 5, 10 and 15 years
When the time is right
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The only thing that is constant is change,” or some other saying along those lines. It’s one of the things that comes to my mind when a man comes to me asking about a vasectomy reversal.
When most men get a vasectomy, they’re not thinking that they might get it reversed someday. Yet situations change, and many men come to me years later saying that they want another child. This change of heart can be due to a remarriage, a change in financial situation, or to relieve the uncommon but dreaded post-vasectomy pain syndrome.
These men are happy to find out that vasectomy reversal is not only possible, but pretty common: In the United States, about 500,000 men have vasectomies each year and up to six percent of those men later seek a vasectomy reversal.
The two types of vasectomy reversal
Vasectomy reversal success rates often depend on the kind of procedure involved. In the United States, about two-thirds of all men who get a reverse vasectomy have a procedure called a vasovasostomy, also called a VV. For this procedure, your doctor sews the ends of the vas deferens tubes from the testicles to the penis back together. Following this procedure, sperm appears in the semen in about 85 to 97% of men, and about 50 percent of couples achieve a pregnancy after the procedure.
The other one-third of men who get a reverse vasectomy undergo a more difficult surgical procedure called a vasoepididymostomy, or a VE. In this procedure, the doctor attaches the vas deferens to the small organ at the back of each testicle that holds sperm. Your doctor may only choose this method if a vasovasostomy isn’t possible or if it’s not likely to work. Unfortunately, your doctor can usually only decide whether a VV or a VE is appropriate during surgery. Following this procedure, sperm appears in the semen in about 65% of men, and about 20 percent of couples achieve a pregnancy after the procedure.
How time plays a role
So maybe it’s been a more than a few years since your vasectomy. Should you be worried about whether or not the procedure will work?
Well, as you’ve read already, neither procedure works 100% of the time. Yet vasectomy reversals have been effective even after more than 25 years.
A study conducted at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center found that whether a man had a vasectomy less than a year ago or 15 years ago, there was no difference in the pregnancy rate achieved following a vasectomy reversal. However, other studies found that after 15 years, men are more likely to need a VE, which has a lower success rate than a VV.
Other factors to consider
Of course, there are other factors involved. Your chances of getting your partner pregnant may also be affected by your age and fertility levels, as well as your partner’s. Your surgeon’s experience and skill can also play a role.
The bottom line is that vasectomy reversal often works, no matter how long it’s been since your vasectomy. And even if it doesn’t work, there are several treatment options to consider, such as in vitro fertilization or sperm extraction and insemination.
Whatever your situation, your physician should be able to help guide you in the right direction.