What is vasectomy reversal operation?
There’s a wise old saying that goes, “Fear is temporary. Regret is forever.”
Those who’ve had a vasectomy and wish it can be undone may well relate to this saying. Thankfully, in 1975, a doctor named Sherman Silber, MD, invented, reported and successfully performed a vasectomy reversal. Since then, vasectomised males who’ve experienced “buyer’s remorse” can now have the option to be fertile once more.
To first understand what a vasectomy reversal operation is, it is important for us to know the basics of vasectomy.
The history of vasectomy
Also known as male sterilisation, a vasectomy is a form of birth control via a surgical procedure. It’s worth digging into the interesting origins and history of vasectomy. Vasectomy was first performed on dogs in 1853. A French surgeon named Dr. Leon Gosselin performed a series of vasectomy experiments on dogs and noted that the procedure had zero effect on sperm production. It just changed how it was distributed; sperm just “dies” as it gets reabsorbed by the body, rather than expelled outside the body through ejaculation.
In the United States, the first reported vasectomy was in 1897 by a surgeon from Chicago named A.J Ochsner, who wrote a paper about it entitled “Surgical Treatment of Habitual Criminals”. In 1902, a surgeon at the Indiana Reformatory, Harry C. Sharp, claimed that in an attempt to reduce criminal behaviour and prevent the birth of future criminals, he had sterilised 42 inmates in total.
More than a hundred years later, vasectomies are performed for birth prevention, rather than crime, and about half a million vasectomies are done each year in the United States.
What is a vasectomy?
Simply put, a vasectomy is a surgical procedure that cuts off the small tubes in the scrotum that carry sperm. These are called the vas deferens. Sperm is made in the testicles, and leaves them through two tubes (vas deferens), mixing with other bodily fluids to make semen. Normally, the semen leaves the body through ejaculation.
In a vasectomy, the two sides of the vas deferens (tubes) are cut and sealed. The testes still produces semen, and it gets “ejected” inside a man’s body, rather than outside (though the urethra).
There are two types of vasectomies:
Conventional vasectomy – In this method, the surgeon makes two small cuts in the scrotum, which is then stitched up or closed at the end of the procedure.
No-scalpel vasectomy – This is a newer method which involves a special instrument making a tiny hole in the scrotum above the vas deferens. The no-scalpel vasectomy is known to cause less pain, bleeding and complications. Best of all, this does not require any stitches.
What happens in a vasectomy?
For the two types of vasectomies listed above, their difference lies in how the scrotum is “opened”. The next steps are more or less the same, no matter if a man has opted for a conventional or no-scalpel vasectomy.
A small section in each vas deferens is cut and the two ends are then sealed or tied. This stops the sperm (which is produced in the testes) from mixing with semen and leaving the male body. In a vasectomised male, only semen leaves the body (without sperm).
What is a vasectomy reversal operation?
Now that you know in detail what a vasectomy is, it’s probably not hard to imagine what a vasectomy reversal operation is. The term itself seems self-explanatory. But nevertheless, the medical description of a vasectomy reversal operation is a surgery to undo a vasectomy.
It reconnects each of the vas deferens that carries sperm from the testicle into the semen.
What is the success rate of a vasectomy reversal operation?
First, let’s establish that success here is defined as getting the partner pregnant. There are a number of factors that will affect the success of a vasectomy reversal operation. Some of these include: how long it has been since one has had a vasectomy, the ages of both the patient and their partner, the surgeon’s training and professional experience and, of course, if one has had an existing fertility issue prior to undergoing a vasectomy. In general, the pregnancy rates following a vasectomy reversal operation ranges from 30 to 90 percent.
Why do men choose to have a vasectomy reversal operation?
It’s been revealed that between 6-10 ten percent of vasectomy patients experience a change of heart and decide to undergo a reversal. Many personal factors and circumstances play a part in making this decision. Some common reasons include a new relationship or marriage, losing a child or the couple deciding to have more children.
In very rare cases, men who experience pain and complications from their vasectomy will want to undergo a reversal for relief.
There are two types of vasectomy reversal:
Vasovasostomy – This method is when the surgeon simply sews the two ends of the vas deferens from the testes to the penis.
Vasoepididymostomy – In this method, the doctor attaches the vas deferens to the organ behind each testicle that holds sperm. This is a more difficult procedure than a vasovasostomy. Surgeons may opt for this method if they do not believe a vasovasostomy will work with a patient.
Unlike a vasectomy, which can be performed under 30 minutes, a vasectomy reversal is more complex and takes about two to four hours.
Expected recovery takes about two weeks. Icing the area is best for recovery. It helps to have a vasectomy ice pack at home. Hopefully you would have kept the same ice pack from your vasectomy procedure!
Side effects of a vasectomy reversal operation
After a vasectomy reversal operation, it’s normal for the scrotum to be swollen and bruised. You may also experience pain in the groin for one to three weeks. This is a time when a vasectomy ice pack is your best friend.
Two to three months after the vasectomy reversal procedure, the patient’s semen is analysed. Semen analyses are taken for about four to six months or until the semen count stabilises. If a patient has had a vasovasostomy, it can take between six to twelve months for the sperm to “join” in the ejaculation, and longer (up to 18 months) if a patient had a vasoepididymostomy.
Are you considering getting a vasectomy reversal? If you have any experiences to share or would like to know more about pain relief after a reversal of a vasectomy, feel free to share your thoughts with us!