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6 questions answered about vasectomy reversal

Are you wondering what to expect after a vasectomy reversal procedure? Mr Chris Gallegos, Consultant Urological Surgeon at BMI Bath Clinic, discusses what you need to know about recovery.

There are many reasons why you might choose to have a vasectomy reversal – perhaps you regret your initial decision, or your circumstances have changed. If you do decide to undergo a vasectomy reversal, there are some important things to understand before having the procedure.

The procedure itself aims to reconnect the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis, which were previously divided or cauterised. The purpose of this procedure is to make you fertile.

1. What are the chances of success following a vasectomy reversal operation?

The chances of success are primarily related to the length of time that has passed since the original operation. It’s important to check your consultant’s success rates, and to remember that the presence of sperm does not necessarily mean that a man is fertile.

Success rates are:

  • 75% for reversal within 3 years
  • up to 55% after 3-8 years
  • between 40% and 45% after 9-14 years
  • 30% after 15-19 years
  • less than 10% after 20 years

2. When can I resume sexual activity after the operation?

You should avoid ejaculating for at least two weeks to three weeks after the operation. After that you can resume normal activity when you are comfortable.

3. Will the presence of anti-sperm antibodies prevent fertility?

If the operation has been successful, a test will be performed to find out if anti-sperm antibodies are present.

There are different types of antibodies which can occur at levels which are capable of interfering with fertilisation. The levels of antibodies can vary so couples are advised to continue trying for a pregnancy. However, a combination of IgG and IgA antibodies will make fertilisation very unlikely.

It’s also worth noting that the miscarriage rate following a vasectomy reversal is no greater than the risk for the general population – around 15-20%.

4. What are my options if there are no sperms coming through after the operation?

Repeat surgery can be performed with a 75% vasectomy reversal success rate, otherwise you may want to consider alternatives, such as IVF.

5. How will I feel after my surgery?

You’ll be advised to plan for at least one week off work, but this can vary depending on the nature of your work and the ability to work from home. It’s important to avoid strenuous activities for at least two weeks after the operation.

The amount of swelling and bruising will vary from person to person, and you may find it is worse on one side. It’s important to wear tight supportive underwear for one week.

6. Will my sperm count be maintained after a successful operation?

There is no guarantee that sperms will return to your semen. In up to 5% of men, sperms may no longer appear in the semen each year after the operation.

Before having the procedure, it’s important to address any concerns you may have with your consultant surgeon. This will help to manage your expectations and prepare you for your recovery.


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