How to Conceive After a Vasectomy

September 12, 2021

Couples typically come to the conclusion that it’s “time” for a vasectomy when they’ve agreed they no longer wish to conceive. But what happens if you change your mind afterwards and conceiving naturally is preferred? Is a vasectomy reversible?

Vasectomies are a common procedure with about 500,000 performed in the US each year. A vasectomy is an easy and practical contraceptive method that has a 0.15% failure rate. They are typically done in-office by a urologist and take about 20 minutes. There is very little need to prep, minimal recovery time, and very few risks. The procedure is considered successful when sperm are no longer able to leave the body and are instead absorbed. Without sperm, conception is not possible.

During a vasectomy, the vas deferens – a thick-walled tube that transports sperm cells from the epididymis, where the sperm are stored prior to ejaculation – is closed off typically by removing a segment, tying it off and heat-sealing the ends. All of this provides three levels of protection from sperm getting from one side of the vas deferens to the other. Essentially, a vasectomy permanently closes the “hallway” (vas deferens) for sperm to make their way out of the body.

A vasectomy reversal is a surgical procedure that undoes a vasectomy. It reconnects the tube that carries sperm from the testicles to the semen and out of the body. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are present in semen and pregnancy is possible.

Vasectomy reversals are performed in a surgery center under anesthesia. The procedure can take anywhere from two to four hours. Recovery takes about 2 weeks.

The likelihood of pregnancy following a vasectomy removal varies greatly from about 30-90 percent. It depends on the procedure and if there are any other factor that might make it difficult to conceive in either partner. The chances of a successful reversal may be lower if it’s been over 10 years since the vasectomy. A vasectomy can be reversed using one of two methods:

– Vasovasostomy: The ends of the vas deferens from the testes to the penis are sewn back together.

– Vasoepididymostomy: The vas deferens is reattached to the small organ at the back of each testicle that holds sperm.

A vasectomy reversal is considered successful if sperm appear in the semen after a few months. It can take a couple turnovers of your sperm reserve before sperm count returns to a level where getting pregnant is optimal. Samples of ejaculate will be collected and examined for 4-6 months which is about the time it takes for the sperm counts to stabilize. It can take anywhere from six months to one year before sperm return with a vasovasostomy. If a vasoepididymostomy was performed to reverse the vasectomy, it may take longer than one year for sperm to appear in the semen. However, once sperm comes back, the chances to conceive go up.

If would like to discuss conception options after a vasectomy, contact Austin Urology Institute to make an appointment with Dr. Tsai or Dr. Shaw at 512.694.8888