A vasectomy is a surgical procedure, which prevents the release of sperm when a man ejaculates. This article discusses how effective vasectomy is and if it can be reversed.
Vasectomy is considered to be a permanent method of birth control. In this procedure the vas deferens from each testicle are clamped, cut or is sealed; which prevents sperm from mixing with the semen that is ejaculated from the man’s penis. Once a man undergoes a vasectomy, he is not able to have a family, as his partner cannot conceive. Now, how effective is vasectomy and if it can be reversed at all? We will know about these in the following article.
How Effective Is Vasectomy?
Vasectomy also called permanent surgical sterilization, is considered as the most effective method of male contraception.1 However, in the United States, vasectomy is three times lower than tubal ligation, although it has lower costs and lesser risk of complications. An estimated 175,000–526,000 vasectomies are performed in the United States every year.1
There is a need to understand that vasectomy is an effective method of contraception. Also, additional methods of contraception can be used safely for a specific period after a vasectomy, as advised by the treating physician. Hence, it is important to discuss vasectomy, its efficacy and the need for other methods with your physician.
It is important to note that vasectomy is not effective right after the procedure and unintended pregnancies can occur. The reason is that immediately after vasectomy, the remaining sperm in the male productive tract can still cause fertilization after ejaculation.1 This makes it important to be cautious during the early period after a vasectomy is done. You still need to use other birth control until the remaining sperm gets cleared out of the semen. This may take 15 to 20 ejaculations or at least about 3 months. Even then, some men may still give sperm in their semen and will have to wait longer for the sperm to clear off completely. You will have to check with your health care provider who will check your semen sample for sperm at least once after the surgery. Once the sperm counts come to zero, it is safe to assume that your vasectomy procedure is now an effective form of birth control.
Can Vasectomy Be Reversed?
Vasectomy can be reversed. It is a common practice but requires a microsurgical procedure to restore the patency of the male excurrent ductal system in 80 – 99.5% of cases and enables unassisted pregnancies in 40-80% of couples.2 In the United States, vasectomy is performed in 18% of men before the age of 45.2 Out of these, a significant number of people request for reversal of vasectomy, either due to divorce or remarriage.
When a vasectomy reversal procedure is successful, sperm usually appear in the semen after some months of the procedure; but sometimes it may take one year or more. The likelihood of achieving pregnancy after vasectomy reversal depends on several factors such as the length of time that passed since the vasectomy procedure was done, the age of the female partner, fertility status of the female partner and the experience of the surgeon who is conducting the vasectomy reversal procedure, etc.
Unless you get your female partner pregnant, checking your semen for sperm is the only way to let you know if your vasectomy reversal was a success.
Now, you must be worrying what if in case the vasectomy reversal does not work! Well, sometime vasectomy reversal fails in case there is an underlying issue with the testicle, which cannot be recognized during the surgery, or in case there is a blockage that develops sometimes after the surgery. In such cases, men have to go for a second attempt vasectomy reversal surgery. It is necessary to seek medical advice to choose the right treatment option based on your health.
It is now known that vasectomy is effective is a majority of the cases and it is one of the best forms of birth control when compared to using condoms or taking oral contraceptive pills. You can talk to your doctor in case you want to go for this surgery. You are also now aware that vasectomy can also be reversed. So, even if you have undergone a vasectomy surgery; after some years when you again plan to have a baby, you can also go for the vasectomy reversal surgery.