How Long Does it Take to Get Pregnant after a Vasectomy Reversal?
There are approximately one-half million vasectomies performed in the United States annually. Despite the fact that this procedure is intended to be a permanent form of birth control for males, 5 to 10 percent of men who have undergone a vasectomy later seek to have it reversed.
A myriad of life-changing factors may contribute to a man's decision to reverse a vasectomy, including divorce, subsequent remarriage, death of a child, improved financial stability and a change of heart about having more children.
Factors that Influence Outcomes
There are several factors that influence the outcome of a vasectomy reversal, including:
- Type of vasectomy originally performed
- Skill and experience of the urologist performing the vasectomy reversal
- Length of time between the original vasectomy and the vasectomy reversal
- Surgical technique used for the reversal
Timing is Everything
The longer the period of time between the original vasectomy and the vasectomy reversal, the less likely it is to be successful.
The greatest chance of success is when the vasectomy reversal surgery is done within three years of the original vasectomy. The likelihood of success is dramatically lower if ten years or more have passed since undergoing the original vasectomy.
The Surgical Techniques
Vasectomy reversal reconnects the vas deferens, which carry sperm from the testicles to the semen for ejaculation during sexual intercourse.
Vasectomy reversal surgery is done using a surgical microscope. There are two techniques currently used, both of which take two to four hours. These are typically done under general anesthesia, though some patients opt for local anesthesia with sedation.
There are two different surgical techniques used for vasectomy reversal to restore male fertility:
Vasovasectomy is the simplest of the techniques. The vas deferens are reconnected using sutures the diameter of a human eyelash.
Vasoepididymostomy is a more complex procedure, which is done when a vasovasectomy cannot effectively reopen or reconnect the vas deferens. This technique bypasses any testicular obstruction by connecting the vas deferens directly to the epididymis at the back of each testicle.
The urologist chooses the specific surgical technique for each individual patient after beginning the surgery and evaluating the status of the vas deferens.
Vasectomy Reversal Results
Six weeks after surgery, semen is examined under a microscope to check for the presence of sperm. Semen is reevaluated every two to three months until sperm are seen. Sperm is usually found in the semen after several months but can take up to a year or more to reappear post-procedure.
Vasectomy reversal results in pregnancy within two years after surgery for 50 percent of couples. The average length of time it takes for a female partner to conceive after the man's vasectomy reversal surgery is three to fifteen months.
There is a 35-75 percent pregnancy rate after vasectomy reversal, according to the American Urological Association. The greatest rate of success occurs if the reversal is done within three years of the original vasectomy. If the reversal is done ten years or longer after the vasectomy, the success rate drops to about 30 percent.
An Option to Consider for Conception
Physicians begin the reversal surgery by opening the back of the testicle, exposing the vas deferens and examining the seminal fluid for sperm. If sperm is found in the fluid, many physicians encourage their patient to freeze the sperm for future use, in case the vasectomy reversal does not work.
Some men opt to undergo a second attempt at vasectomy reversal if the first surgery is unsuccessful.
The End Result
There is no guarantee of achieving pregnancy after a vasectomy reversal. There are 75-99 percent of men who have the presence of sperm in their semen after the surgery. This translates into 30-75 percent of their female partners actually conceiving a child.