Vasectomy Reversal

It is possible to reverse a vasectomy through a procedure known as a vasovasostomy or a vasoepididymostomy. A vasectomy does have a 100% success rate; therefore, men opting for the procedure should consider it permanent, as reversal can be both difficult and costly.

Surgical Procedure

Vasectomy reversal is usually carried out with general or regional anesthesia, although a local anesthetic may be used in some cases, with or without sedation. The surgery takes between one and four hours, depending on the specific circumstances of the procedure.

The surgical procedure involves two small incisions on either side of the upper scrotum to expose the vas deferens. Both ends are then sliced in half, and the abdominal end is examined and subjected to a saline vasogram to ensure there are no blockages present.

High power cross-section of vas deferens with muscular wall and complete lumen lined by ciliated epithelium. Image Credit: Lisa Culton / Shutterstock
High power cross-section of vas deferens with muscular wall and complete lumen lined by ciliated epithelium. Image Credit: Lisa Culton / Shutterstock

There are two main types of surgery: vasovasostomy and vasoepididymostomy. The choice of which procedure is recommended depends on the vasal fluid and sperm motility's appearance and consistency. Vasovasostomy is the most common and involves the connection of the vas deferens to the other end of the vas deferens. In contrast, a vasoepididymostomy involves the connection of vas deferens to the epididymis.

Vasovasostomy - Mayo Clinic

Patency Success Rate

One of the two main measures of vasectomy reversal success is the patency rate, which refers to the return of motile sperm to the semen when a man ejaculates.

A study from 2007 reported that the vast majority of men (95%) with a vasovasostomy had moving sperm in ejaculate within a year of surgery, and 80% within the short time frame of 3 months. Interestingly, the patient's age at the time of reversal did not seem to affect the results.

Men with a vasoepididymostomy are associated with lower success rates. However, fewer men achieving motile sperm counts, and the time for sperm to return is usually longer.

Pregnancy Success Rate

The pregnancy success rate encompasses the end-goal of a vasectomy reversal and is regarded as the applicable measure of success. However, it is important to recognize that pregnancy success does not depend only on a successful reversal procedure but also on the female partner's factors, such as age.

The rates of pregnancy success following vasectomy reversal vary greatly in scientific studies. However, the average success rate is approximately 55% when the procedure is performed within ten years of the vasectomy, dropping to 25% if performed after this time.

Reversal Failure

The success rate for vasectomy reversal is approximately half of all men who opt to have the procedure, suggesting failure is not an uncommon result. There are several possible reasons for this, including:

  • Infertility factors of the female partner, particularly age.
  • Development of anti-sperm antibodies in men that impair infertility.
  • Development of scar tissue at the reconnection site of the vas deferens, blocking the passage of sperm.
  • The occurrence of an epididymal blowout, requiring vasoepididymostomy surgery.
  • Elevated pressure of the epididymis with an extended blockage, causing poor sperm motility.

Depending on the reason for failure, it may still be possible for the man to conceive a child. In some cases, medications can be used to alter particular characteristics such as inflammation of the vas deferens, although a second reversal procedure may be required in other circumstances.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an alternative method that may help the couple conceive a child. This involves the fertilization of the female egg by the sperm in a controlled scientific situation, which can then be implanted into the female's uterus. This is a good option for many couples, although it does not guarantee success.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Yolanda Smith

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Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


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  1. William Alexander William Alexander United States says:

    I had a vasectomy almost 34 years ago. I have regreted it since about 5 years later, when my wife started to belittle me. If I could I would reverse It today!

    • Crispy Patas Crispy Patas Vietnam says:

      My 38 year old son plans to have a vasectomy. Unmarried and childless, he hopes to avoid possible pregnancies from now on. He is an experienced sex tourist. Today he learned that one of his favorite sex workers had a baby four months ago. She claims the child is his but is uncertain. They will have blood tests to determine paternity this week.

      This is a true story.

      I just found information in this article about preserving sperm for future use.  "...In order to allow a possibility of reproduction (via artificial insemination) after vasectomy, some men opt for cryostorage of sperm before sterilization..."

      I am afraid he will eventually regret this decision. He is young. What is your opinion?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.