What Type of Vasectomy Reversal Procedure is Right for You?
Vasectomy reversal: reviewing the basics
If you’re considering a vasectomy reversal, then you probably already know that in this kind of surgery, a surgeon reverses a vasectomy by reconnecting your vas deferens. The vas deferens are tubes that allow your sperm to get from your testicles to your penis for ejaculation. These two tubes are cut during a vasectomy and reconnected during a vasectomy reversal. After the vas deferens are reconnected, if there’s no blockage or any other complication, you should be able to ejaculate sperm again.
There are many reasons that you might be considering a vasectomy reversal. Some of the reasons that I’ve heard include:
- changing your mind about having children later in life
- a desire to have children again after losing your child or partner
- having children with a new partner after a divorce or a breakup
- a desire to get rid of pain in your testicles related to a vasectomy
- having more stability or financial resources
These are all valid reasons, although it’s important to remember that there can be a time limit involved. Generally speaking, vasectomies can be reversed 20 years or longer after your initial vasectomy. But the longer you wait, the more likely it will be that you’ve developed a more severe blockage due to scar tissue, and the less likely that you’ll be able to have a child after the procedure. In addition, a man’s fertility and sperm count tend to decline as he ages.
It’s been estimated that a man’s chances of getting his partner pregnant after reversing a vasectomy range from 30 to 70 percent. But this percentage can be lower if it’s been more than 10 years since your vasectomy. And of course, you’ll want to work with a surgeon who is qualified and experienced in performing vasectomy reversals.
So how does a vasectomy reversal work?
A vasectomy reversal is performed as an outpatient procedure that usually takes about two hours. Its performed under general anesthesia that keeps you unconscious throughout the surgery.
That’s the easy part to understand. Beyond this, it gets a little technical, so bear with me.
During the procedure, your surgeon will use one or both of two procedures. One’s called a vasovasostomy and the other’s called a vasoepididymostomy. (I didn’t come up with these names, so don’t blame me.) In a vasovasostomy, your surgeon takes the ends of your vas deferens that were cut apart during your vasectomy and stitches them back together. This is the most common procedure. In a vasoepididymostomy, your surgeon stitches the vas deferens directly to the epididymis, which is a duct behind your testicles.
Which vasectomy reversal procedure is best?
In most cases, your surgeon won’t know which procedure to do until after the operation begins. If your surgeon finds clear seminal fluid and/or sperm in your vas deferens, then you’ll probably get a vasovasostomy. If there aren’t any sperm or if the fluid is abnormally thick, your surgeon will do a vasoepididymostomy or a combination of the two procedures.
Afterward, your surgeon closes the incision with stitches or sutures, and applies a bandage to help stop any bleeding. It takes a few weeks or longer for vasectomy reversal recovery, and in the months after the procedure, you’ll probably want your urologist to check to see if sperm reappear in your semen. This is called a fertility evaluation. With a vasovasostomy, it can take several months before sperm appear in your semen. However, if you had a vasoepididymostomy, it may take more than a year.
I realize that this is a lot of information to take in, so I’ll break it down for you: Before you proceed with your surgery, remember that there are two approaches that your urologist may choose from after your procedure begins. Before you choose to have the surgery, you’ll want to make sure that you’re working with someone who is highly experienced with both procedures and who can provide satisfactory answers to your other vasectomy reversal questions. And if you do have any other questions, we recommend writing them down and coming prepared to your consultation.