Pregnancy after vasectomy: 6 questions to ask if you’re considering getting a vasectomy reversal
A vasectomy is a very safe and effective form of male contraception. It involves surgically disconnecting or blocking off the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis and it usually an option for people who have completed their families and want a permanent contraception solution. Our ‘What is a vasectomy?’ information video explains more.
However, circumstances can change, and some people do later wish to try and have more children. Here, we outline some of the key points to consider:
1: Can you reverse a vasectomy?
Yes, generally speaking, a vasectomy can be reversed. However, the procedure is more complicated than a vasectomy and there are a number of important points to be aware of. It’s usually done via microsurgery carried out under a microscope, whereby the tubes that carry sperm are reconnected, although the exact technique used can vary depending on a range of factors, such as how much scar tissue there is, and can take up to three hours. Some clinics perform vasectomy reversals as a day case, but we usually advise an overnight stay in hospital due to the length of time under anaesthetic.
2: Are there any risks involved?
All surgical procedures carry a degree of risk, including infection and bleeding. While generally minimal, it’s important to be fully aware of the risks. Your surgeon will discuss these with you before you decide to go ahead.
3: What is the recovery time?
Vasectomy reversal recovery time is relatively quick and straightforward but there are a few important things to consider. You’ll need about a week off work, and heavy-lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for a few weeks – your surgeon will be able to advise what’s best for you.
Rest and painkillers can help with the initial soreness, along with wearing close-fitting underwear for at least the first 24 hours – although some men find it useful to carry on with this until the discomfort and swelling reduce entirely, which may take up to a few weeks.
4: How soon can you have sex after a vasectomy reversal?
It’s usually advised that you wait around a month before having sex, as this may hinder the healing process and possibly the success of the procedure too.
5: What is the vasectomy reversal success rate?
Vasectomy reversals are not always successful. One of the biggest factors here is the length of time that’s passed since you had your vasectomy. If it’s been five years or less then success rates are generally high, but the odds reduce as the time in-between gets longer. The success of the procedure won’t be fully clear until sperm tests are carried out further down the line. Our ‘Vasectomy reversal success rates: Why does it decline over time?’ explains more.
6: What options are there for getting pregnant if a vasectomy reversal doesn’t work?
Sperm retrieval techniques – for example, where sperm is retrieved directly from the testes via a needle – might still be an option if vasectomy reversal does not work, or for men who want to try for a baby again but wish to avoid reversal surgery. We are usually able to retrieve some sperm during the reversal procedure, which can be frozen as a back-up option in case the reversal proves unsuccessful. Our Sperm Retrieval Techniques treatment page explains more.