While men often turn to a vasectomy as a permanent solution to limit fertility, it is not exactly irreversible, as there is such a procedure called vasectomy reversal.
In this article:
- What Is A Vasectomy?
- What Is A Vasectomy Reversal?
- What Are the Types of Vasectomy Reversal?
- Why Do Men Want A Vasectomy Reversal?
- Who Can Go Through Vasectomy Reversal?
- What Are the Risks of Vasectomy Reversal?
- How Much Does a Vasectomy Reversal Cost?
- Does Insurance Cover Vasectomy Reversal?
- Will Medicare Pay for a Vasectomy Reversal?
- What Should You Expect Before the Procedure?
- How Is Vasectomy Reversal Done?
- What Is Vasectomy Reversal Recovery Like?
- What Is the Success Rate for Vasectomy Reversals?
- Where Can You Get A Vasectomy Reversal?
How to Reverse a Vasectomy: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Vasectomy?
It is a clinical procedure done to the male reproductive organ. The small tubes inside the scrotum which carry the sperm outside the body (a.k.a. the vas deferens) are blocked or cut off to prevent pregnancy.
A vasectomy can be done as an out-patient procedure. This means that the patient can go home right after the surgery.
There are two types of vasectomies:
- Incision Method – requires cutting into the vas deferens using a scalpel before proceeding with cutting, tying, or cauterizing the tubes. The incision is closed by stitching.
- No Scalpel Vasectomy – requires puncturing into the vas deferens using a hemostat to cut or block off the tubes. The small hole should heal quickly and does not merit stitching.
Cauterizing Definition: Burning of flesh using a heated instrument to prevent bleeding or fluid flow.
What Is A Vasectomy Reversal?
A vasectomy reversal counters the effects of a vasectomy. Simply put, it reconnects the detached tubes (or unblocks the cauterized or tied tubes) inside the scrotum.
The sperm will then be able to flow outside the body with the semen once again. And as expected, pregnancy is once more possible.
It is important to remember, though, that this procedure does not guarantee fertility.
What Are the Types of Vasectomy Reversal?
There are two ways to reverse a vasectomy:
- Via vasovasostomy – This is the more common and simpler procedure. It basically just reconnects the vas deferens.
- Via vasoepididymostomy – This is the more technical and skillfully demanding type of vasectomy reversal, and is only done if there is some sort of blockage somewhere along the tubes. It is a procedure wherein the cut-off vas deferens are attached to the epididymis, which is the duct behind the testes, and is where the sperm flows right before it heads to the vas deferens.
Why Do Men Want A Vasectomy Reversal?
Men tend to consider reversing their vasectomies because:
- They changed their minds about having children later in life.
- They are experiencing pain in their testicles after the vasectomy procedure.
- The resources to raise a family have become available.
- They want a new child after a loss of another.
- They have a new partner and want to have children together.
Who Can Go Through Vasectomy Reversal?
Men who went through vasectomy can go through the reversal. But, do note that the longer you wait after the initial procedure, the less likely you can achieve the end goal of vasectomy reversal: conception.
Those who go through vasectomy reversal in less than 25 years after the initial surgery have higher chances of getting a woman pregnant again.
What Are the Risks of Vasectomy Reversal?
Vasectomy reversal surgeries pose risks, the same way other clinical procedures pose complications. And just like the latter, the risks of the vasectomy reversal procedure may be avoided by being informed and by following the advice of your healthcare provider.
Pain in the surgical site may be controlled by taking prescribed analgesics. But if the pain becomes chronic, do see your doctor right away.
Infection may happen if the surgical site isn’t cared for properly. Clean it regularly, and you can take antibiotics as prescribed.
Swelling, caused by hematoma or pooling of blood in the area, may be managed by applying ice packs. Rest is advised as well.
You may also consult your doctor about taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications.
How Much Does a Vasectomy Reversal Cost?
The cost of a vasectomy reversal varies from state to state. The type of practice (hospital, clinic, or health institution) affects the pricing, too.
A vasovasostomy may range from 8,000 to $30,000, but may go lower or higher.
Does Insurance Cover Vasectomy Reversal?
Most health insurance plans do not cover vasectomy reversal. This is so as typical insurance regulations exclude the reversal of any voluntary sterilization procedure.
Will Medicare Pay for a Vasectomy Reversal?
Public health insurance plans, on the other and, may help lower the cost of your medical bill.
Medicare provides assistance to people with long-term disabilities, as well as to those over 65 years of age. But there is a need for assessment of the past and current treatment plans.
Uniformed service members of The Veterans Association are on the positive end of the spectrum, though, as this is the only public medical insurance that covers vasectomy reversal.
What Should You Expect Before the Procedure?
Your doctor will ask for your medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is done to ensure that you do not have any existing condition that could overcomplicate the procedure.
You may be asked to undergo semen analysis and sperm count test to assess the health of your sperm cells.
If you happen to have a partner, your doctor may ask to examine her gynecological health as well. This will help estimate the chances of conception between you two (again).
How Is Vasectomy Reversal Done?
Here are some important points to remember about the vasectomy reversal procedure:
- Vasectomy reversal procedures are done in out-patient clinics or hospitals. They do not require staying overnight.
- The doctor gives general anesthesia to patients who prefer to be unconscious throughout the surgery. Otherwise, a local anesthetic is given.
- Vasectomy reversal is a microsurgery, which means it requires the technology of a surgical microscope. The instrument magnifies the view for the surgeon.
- Whether a vasovasostomy or a vasoepididymostomy will be done will be determined by the presence of sperm in the vas deferens at the time of the surgery. Sometimes, both methods are required to successfully reverse a vasectomy.
The general flow of a vasectomy reversal is as follows:
- The surgeon makes an incision at the bottom of the scrotum to access the vas deferens.
- He or she then cuts into the vas deferens to check for the presence of fluid.
- The fluid is then examined for sperm cells. If they are present, the two ends of the vas deferens are reconnected (vasovasostomy).
- If there are no sperm cells in the fluid, usually due to blockage (i.e. scar tissue), the end of the vas deferens will be attached to the epididymis (vasoepididymostomy).
What Is Vasectomy Reversal Recovery Like?
Right after the surgery, the doctor stitches up the cut and covers it with a sterile bandage. You are scheduled for a follow-up check-up before you get discharged.
Then, you may be issued the following patient care reminders to ensure safe recovery:
- Apply cold compress on the surgical site to reduce swelling.
- Wear an athletic supporter to avoid stretching the incision on the scrotum.
- Take analgesics for pain as prescribed.
- It’s okay to remove the bandage to let the covered area breathe.
- Avoid getting the surgical site wet to prevent infection.
- Temporarily limit yourself to light activities.
- Sexual intercourse and ejaculating after vasectomy reversal can only happen with your doctor’s clearance, usually two to three weeks post-operation.
- Watch out for numbness in the scrotum, hematoma, pus, fever over 100°F or 38°C, and pain and redness on the incision site. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
If all goes well, the next time you see your doctor will be during your follow-up check-up. At that time, your semen will be assessed for the presence of sperm cells.
But do take note that it may take weeks to a year before sperm cells appear in your semen (again).
What Is the Success Rate for Vasectomy Reversals?
A study published in 2012 yielded results indicating a 91.4% success rate in pregnancy — 44.4% of which were natural conception. Though, it also took into consideration smoking, semen quality, and post-operative use of other reproductive techniques as variables.
Generally, vasectomy reversal procedures have a success rate of 90% but that does not account for pregnancies. Conception post-surgery is still at a 50:50 chance.
The end goal of vasectomy reversal — pregnancy — is affected by the following factors:
- Age of patient and partner – The chance of conception is higher among those below 40 years old.
- Time between vasectomy and reversal – As said before, a longer time frame decreases the chances of pregnancy.
- Prior vasectomy procedure – If the patient’s blood was exposed to semen, the likelihood of producing sperm cell antibodies is high.
- Obstruction of sperm cells at the surgical site – This may be caused by another condition or by a scarring complication.
Where Can You Get A Vasectomy Reversal?
Seek a Urologist for vasectomy reversal or talk to your primary care physician to point you in the right direction. Our trained and experienced medical professionals at Midwest Urological Group can treat patients in Peoria, IL, and surrounding areas.
Vasectomy reversal is a relatively simple procedure. But, just like other surgical methods, it may be affected by physiological, technical, and medical factors.
Talk with your doctor to be fully informed. Ask about more suitable vasectomy reversal alternatives, like in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, if needed.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment for vasectomy reversal evaluation and treatment in Peoria, IL, call Midwest Urological Group at (309) 692-9898.