Surgical Procedures

Is a Vasectomy Permanent?

Oct 22, 2023
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Is a Vasectomy Permanent?

About 50 million American men have had vasectomies, and each year, another half million men join them. Vasectomy is a very effective form of birth control — in fact, it’s more effective than nearly every other type of birth control.

But what if you change your mind in the future? Can a vasectomy be reversed? Often, the answer is yes.

In fact, at Gulf Coast Urology, John Bertini, Jr., MD, FACS, James M. Harris, MD, and Travis Green, MD perform vasectomy reversals (or vasovasostomy surgery) using state-of-the-art techniques to help men restore their fertility. If you’ve had a vasectomy and you’re wondering if you can have it reversed, here’s what you should know.

The ABCs of vasectomy

Vasectomy gets its name from the vas deferens, a thin tube that carries sperm from the testes prior to ejaculation. There are two vas deferens, each connected to a single testis (testicle).

In a vasectomy procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision (sometimes two small incisions) to access each vas deferens. Each tube is cut and a small section is removed. Then, the ends of each vas deferens are closed to prevent sperm from being ejaculated.

A vasectomy doesn’t have any effect on a man’s ability to obtain or maintain an erection, produce ejaculate, or perform sexually. It also has no effect on testosterone production or your libido. In fact, you may find sex more pleasurable without the worry of unintended pregnancy.

Reversing a vasectomy

Although vasectomy offers plenty of benefits for men who don’t want children in the future, there are some times when a man who’s had a vasectomy may change his mind. In those cases, a vasectomy procedure is possible — and very often, reversal is completely successful.

In general, the success of vasectomy reversal surgery depends a lot on how long ago you had your original vasectomy. In general, vasectomy reversal is more effective if performed within 10 years of the vasectomy procedure, with pregnancy rates declining as time goes on.

That said, not all reversal surgeries are successful. If you’re considering a vasectomy, it’s important to base your decision on a firm intention not to have children in the future.

The reversal procedure

Like a vasectomy, reversal surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Your surgeon makes a small incision in your scrotum to provide access to the vas deferens. Scar tissue is removed from the cut ends, and the two “clean” ends are sutured back together.

Next, the surgeon may look for other possible areas of sperm blockage. Sometimes, a vasectomy causes changes in the epididymis, a tiny coiled tube that sperm must pass through on their way to the vas deferens.

Sometimes, a vasectomy causes increased pressure inside the tiny coil, causing it to rupture. In order for a vasectomy reversal to be successful, your surgeon will need to bypass the damaged epididymis before placing the vas deferens back in the scrotum and closing the incision.

Vasectomy reversal: The bottom line

Vasectomy reversal is associated with pregnancy rates of 30%-70%, depending on factors like:

  • Time since the first vasectomy
  • Ages of the two partners
  • Presence of other fertility problems

The key to achieving the highest success rates is to select a surgeon with experience in complex vasectomy reversal surgeries, including surgeries involving the tiny epididymis. The surgeons at Gulf Coast Urology have the expertise and experience to help each patient achieve the highest levels of success.

To learn more about vasectomy reversal procedures at our practices in Houston and Clear Lake, Texas, call or book an appointment online today.

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