Conception After Vasectomy

When they choose a vasectomy, people believe that they won’t want any more children. Many people remain happy about this decision for the rest of their lives. But for some, life changes, and they want to be able to conceive again. They may enter a new relationship and want to have children with their new partner, or they may simply change their minds about having another baby. We see many patients in this situation at our Phoenix-area fertility clinic serving communities throughout Arizona, including Mesa and Tucson.

If this is your situation right now, you’re probably wondering what your options are. Should you try to have your vasectomy reversed? Or do you have other options for conceiving another child?

While reversal of your procedure may be possible, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a better option for most people.

Vasectomy Reversal vs. IVF

In many cases, a vasectomy can be reversed using microsurgical techniques. The vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicle and was cut during the vasectomy, can often be reconnected. This procedure is more complex than a vasectomy; it takes about two to four hours and is usually performed under general anesthesia.

However, even if the vasectomy reversal is successful at establishing an open vas deferens, pregnancy does not always result. This is because, after a vasectomy, a man’s body often forms antibodies against his own sperm. This means that his immune system destroys the sperm, which may mean that he doesn’t produce enough healthy sperm to successfully fertilize an egg.

The likelihood of the man’s partner becoming pregnant after his vasectomy reversal depends strongly on how long it’s been since the vasectomy was originally performed. If it’s been fewer than ten years, the success rates are as high as 50%; however, if it’s been ten years or longer since the vasectomy, only 30% of men are able to impregnate their partners after reversal. This means that more than 2 out of 3 men who have a successful vasectomy reversal still don’t conceive a child. Vasectomy reversal is not performed at Reproductive Health Center of Tucson, but if you decide that you want to have this procedure, we can refer you to a qualified urologist who can do the surgery.

An alternative to vasectomy reversal is IVF. Sperm can be retrieved directly from the testicle, via procedures known as TESA or PESA, bypassing the vas deferens. When the sperm are combined with the partner’s eggs in the laboratory, a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be used, in which the sperm is injected directly into the egg cell to ensure fertilization. This is useful if the numbers of sperm are low or the sperm have abnormal shapes or low motility.