Everything You Need To Know About Reversing A Vasectomy

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It made sense at the time. You didn’t want any more kids and Vas Madness was right around the corner. What better time to schedule a snip and sit on the couch? Plus, there was the prospect of sex without the worry of slipping one past the goalie. Solid move. But then something happened — maybe you changed, maybe your partner did — and you want to reverse your decision and start firing live rounds again. People change their minds all the time. (Remember when you stopped thinking hemp necklaces were cool?)

person tying knot

Wikimedia Commons

Granted, untying your tubes requires a bit more work than simply undoing a rope clasp. But the procedure is more common than you might think. Here’s what you need to know about getting the band back together.

First Things First

Before you go through with this, just make sure you really, really know that you want to be fertile again. Reversing a vasectomy is quite a bit more complicated than getting one in the first place. The surgery is more involved, recovery time is longer, and it can easily cost 10 times as much. And unlike vasectomies, vasectomy reversals aren’t typically covered by health insurance. The procedure could run you as much as $10,000.

The Basics

A vasectomy reversal is an outpatient procedure typically performed with local or regional anesthetic. Urologists use a surgical microscope to magnify the vas deferens — the tube which serves as a sperm causeway that was severed and tied off during the vasectomy. They’ll inspect the severed end closer to the testes to see if it has sperm in it. Depending on what they see, the surgery then takes one of 2 paths:

Vasovasostomy

If sperm is present in the vas deferens, doctors will use tiny sutures to rejoin the 2 ends. The entire procedure lasts for about an hour. Done and done.

Vasoepididymostomy

If the vas is dry, a buildup of pressure probably caused a blockage in the epididymis, a tightly coiled tube that connects the testes to the vas. Doctors will then connect the upper portion of the vas directly to a lower portion of the epididymis. Vasoepididymostomy is a more complicated, longer operation than a vasovasostomy (it lasts anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours) It also has a slightly lower success rate.

doctors working on patient

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The Postgame Plan

Both procedures are about as painful as a standard vasectomy and complication rates are low. Your little general will need a bit more time to get back onto the battlefield. Most men spend a span sitting on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on their gauze-wrapped, jock-supported crotch. You can return to work after a few days, but you should wait at least 3 weeks before you return to any sexual activity. Unless, of course, you’re into phrases like “scrotal infection” or “painful ejaculation”.

Getting Back To Basics

If you have a vasoepididymostomy, it can take up to a year for your little swimmers to start doing laps again. After a vasovasostomy, motile sperm often appears in 2-3 months. Most men stay fertile indefinitely after either procedure. However, scarring does occur in about 5 percent of cases. This can block sperm from reaching the vas deferens in the years following surgery.

The success of the operation depends on the amount of time elapsed since the initial vasectomy. For patients who wait less than 10 years, the pregnancy success rate is 55 percent. After 10 years, that figure drops to just 25 percent. So, don’t delay.

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