Vasectomy reversal

What is reversing a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is meant to be a permanent method of male contraception. Reversing a vasectomy is a procedure to rejoin the tubes or vas deferens that were cut during a vasectomy. For many reasons, men seek to have this procedure to regain their fertility.

Vasectomy reversal 

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim of rejoining the tubes is to allow sperm to mix with your semen, making you fertile again.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Couples may consider fertility techniques such as IVF/ICSI (in vitro fertilisation). This involves an operation on the male partner to retrieve sperm and the female partner to retrieve eggs after hormonal stimulation. Any embryos are transferred to the female partner at a second operation. This can be arranged if the Vasectomy Reversal is unsuccessful.

Who can have a Vasectomy Reversal?

All men who have had a vasectomy are eligible for a reversal operation regardless of the technique used to do the vasectomy. The best results are reported from clinics that perform a high number of cases per year.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 2 hours. The surgeon rejoins the cut tubes or vas deferens on both sides. It may be performed using a microscope, as this methods enables precise surgery and increases the chances of a successful outcome. The micro-surgical procedure is available in a limited number of hospitals, so please contact us for more details.

Your surgeon will usually make one cut in the centre of your scrotum.

What complications can happen?

  • Pain – mild discomfort controlled with a painkiller such as paracetamol 
  • Bruising – this should only be minor and will resolve by itself 
  • Infection – these are usually minor and if present, respond well to antibiotics

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home within 24 hours, but you will need someone to drive you. You should be able to return to work after a week.

It is best to avoid exercise, heavy duties and sex for 2 weeks after the operation.

About three months after the operation, your doctor will ask you to give a sample of your semen. The sample will be tested to find out if there are any sperm present which indicates a successful procedure.

What is the success rate?

You should ask your surgeon for his/her individual success rates as these vary according to experience.

If the operation fails and you and your partner still want a baby, you should discuss the alternatives with your doctor.

Summary

Reversing a vasectomy is an operation to rejoin the tubes that carry sperm from your testicles. It may make you fertile again.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr Duncan Harriss DM FRCS(Urol), Consultant Urological Surgeon, BMI The Park Hospital, Nottingham

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