While vasectomies are considered a permanent form of birth control, some men opt to reverse them. This procedure is known as a vasovasostomy and uses microsurgical techniques to reconnect the vas deferens (tube that carries the sperm from the testicles).
Vasectomy reversal is performed under general anaesthetic in two to four hours. It is important to know that even a successful vasectomy reversal does not guarantee fertility.
Vasectomy Reversal operation day
The hospital will advise you when to come to hospital, usually by phone on the day before your surgery. On arrival to the ward the staff will show you to your bed and guide you through what is required prior to your operation.
It is advised you stop eating and drinking at least 6 hours prior to surgery. You should bring your own medications with you and the staff will advise you if you need to take them on the day of your operation.
Please inform your surgeon if you are taking any anti-coagulant (blood thinning) medication.
The Vasectomy Reversal procedure
The operation involves making two incisions in the scrotum. The ends of the vas tube are located and carefully re-joined using magnification and very fine precision stitching.
The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes about two to four hours. The operation is generally able to be done as a day case.
Vasectomy Reversal success rates
Success rates are different for every male, which is why it's key to book in a consultation where the Urologist can have an honest discussion about their specific likelihood of success.
The first attempt at reversal is the most successful. A shorter interval from vasectomy to reversal is better, with most success when < 15 years. The longer since the initial vasectomy, the lower the chance of success. For example, 97% at 3 years, 88% at 3-8 years, 79% at 9-14 years and 71% at > 15 years. There are also factors that the Urologist can determine from examination that can help assess the success rate.
Vasectomy Reversal pregnancy rates
This depends on the success rate (success means whether live sperm are found in the semen after the reversal). It is up to 76% if the vasectomy was < 3 years ago, down to 50% if it was up to 15 years ago. Generally, pregnancy occurs around 12 months after reversal.
Vasectomy Reversal recovery
You must not drive any vehicle or operate any machinery for 24 hours after having an anaesthetic. You will have to arrange for someone to drive you home if you go home within 24 hours of your surgery.
When the operation is completed, you will go to the recovery room for a short while where you will be cared for until you are ready to be transferred to your room.
As the anaesthetic wears off, you may experience some pain. This can be relieved by the administration of pain relief. You will have some bruising to your scrotum which will eventually settle. It is advisable to take it easy for a week and wear firm, supportive underwear.
A sperm count is usually performed 5 weeks after surgery. The result of this will indicate whether the reversal has been successful and whether you may be able to father children. Sometimes, despite successful surgery, healthy sperm to not appear in the semen afterwards. Your urologist will discuss this with you before your operation. It is important to know that even a successful vasectomy reversal does not guarantee fertility.
You will receive a follow-up appointment for 6 weeks after the surgery.