Vasectomy Reversal (Vasovasostomy)

Surgery Overview

A vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control. Vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) reconnects the tubes (vas deferens) that were cut during a vasectomy.

Vasectomy reversal is usually an outpatient procedure (without an overnight stay in the hospital). Spinal or general anesthesia is commonly used to ensure that you stay completely still during the surgery.

The chances of vasectomy reversal success depend on how much time has passed between the vasectomy and the reversal. Over time, additional blockages can form, and some men develop antibodies to their own sperm.

The surgery is more complicated and takes more time when blockage between the vas deferens and the epididymis requires correction (vasoepididymostomy).

What To Expect After Surgery

Vasectomy reversal usually takes from 2 to 4 hours, followed by a few more hours for recovery from the anesthetic. You can expect to go home the same day.

Pain may be mild to moderate. You should be able to resume normal activities, including sex, within 3 weeks.

Why It Is Done

Vasectomy reversal is done when you have had a vasectomy and now want to be fertile.

How Well It Works

Chances of a successful vasectomy reversal decline over time. Reversals are more successful during the first 10 years after vasectomy.1

In general, vasectomy reversal:2

  • Leads to overall pregnancy rates of greater than 50%.
  • Has the greatest chance of success within 3 years of the vasectomy.
  • Leads to pregnancy only about 30% of the time if the reversal is done 10 years after vasectomy.

Risks

Risks of vasectomy reversal include:

  • Infection at the site of surgery.
  • Fluid buildup in the scrotum (hydrocele) that may require draining.
  • Injury to the arteries or nerves in the scrotum.

What To Think About

Before a vasectomy reversal is done, your doctor will want to confirm that you were fertile before your vasectomy.

You can have tests to see whether you have sperm antibodies in your semen before and after vasectomy reversal. If there are sperm antibodies in your semen after surgery, your partner is unlikely to become pregnant. In such a case, you may wish to try in vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Pollack AE, et al. (2007). Female and male sterilization. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 361–401. New York: Ardent Media.
  2. Speroff L, Darney PD (2005). Sterilization. In A Clinical Guide for Contraception, 4th ed., pp. 359–386. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised December 7, 2011

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