The vasectomy procedure is a minor surgical operation designed to offer a permanent form of contraception for men. Your surgeon will sever the tubes that carry the sperm in your testicles, preventing them from reaching your semen and ensuring that your partner cannot become pregnant. A vasectomy is considered to be a permanent form of contraception.
What is a Vasectomy Reversal?
A vasectomy reversal is a complicated surgery to undo a vasectomy. Reversing a vasectomy involves reconnecting the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from a testicle that were sealed or blocked during the original procedure. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present in the semen, and you may be able to get your partner pregnant.
You may decide to undergo a vasectomy reversal for a number of reasons, including change of heart in wanting kids later in life or remarriage. In some cases, a vasectomy reversal may also be used to treat testicular pain caused by a previous vasectomy. A vasectomy can be reversed for more than 20 years following the original procedure; however, the longer you wait, the less likely that you will be able to have a child. Other factors that can affect whether pregnancy can be achieved post reversal include your age, your partners age and fertility issues prior to the vasectomy.
How to Prepare for Vasectomy Reversal
A vasectomy reversal is typically carried out as a day case procedure, usually performed under a general anaesthetic. A general anaesthetic may make you sick, so it is important not to eat anything from midnight the night before your surgery, or drink anything for 6 hours prior to your procedure.
You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home following surgery. It is also a good idea to pack some tight-fitting, supportive underwear to support your scrotum, hold bandages in place and help to reduce any discomfort and swelling after your procedure.
Quitting smoking is recommended as it can increase your risk of developing a chest or wound infection, slowing your recovery.
Treatment and Procedure
A vasectomy reversal is performed as a day case procedure, with the length of time depending on the technique your doctor uses. It can be performed under a local anaesthetic that numbs the area around your scrotum, or with general anaesthetic, keeping you unconscious throughout the surgery. Your surgeon will use one or both of the following procedures:
If there are sperm located in the fluid, this shows that the route is clear between your testis and where the vas deferens was cut. Your doctor sews severed ends of each tube that carries the sperm back together and puts them back inside your scrotum, closing the wound with dissolvable stitches. In some cases, it is not always possible to re-join the vas deferens in both testicles.
Your doctor may use this procedure instead of a regular Vasovasostomy if the sperm is blocked from moving to your vas deferens by scar tissue, or if a Vasovasostomy is not likely to work. A Vasoepididymostomy is a more complicated operation than a Vasovasostomy with the doctor sometimes having to perform both procedures (one on each side).
Both procedures are done using similar steps:
Your doctor will make a small incision on your scrotum (usually in the same place as your vasectomy scars) to get to the tube that carries the sperm (vas deferens).
Next, your doctor opens your vas deferens to examine the fluid inside the tube. They will cut the tubes above and below where they were sealed or blocked in the vasectomy, remove any scar tissue and examine the fluid found in the tubes. At this point, the doctor will decide which technique to use. If there is sperm found in the fluid, they will perform a Vasovasostomy; if the fluid is unusually thick or there are no sperm, your doctor will perform a Vasoepididymostomy. Your doctor then stitches and dresses the wound on your scrotum to prevent any bleeding.
A vasectomy reversal may take longer than a vasectomy due to the additional steps involved in reattaching the two ends of the vas deferens to each other.
Aftercare and Complications
Following surgery, your doctor will cover the wound with bandages; you will wear tight fitting underwear and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. You may experience some discomfort as the effects of the anaesthetic wear off, but you can take pain relief and then go home as soon as you feel ready. Make sure you have organised transport as you will not be able to drive.
You may experience some pain and swelling but in most cases, this is not severe and gets better within a week. Avoid activities that may cause the testicles to move around excessively, such as intercourse for 2-3 weeks. If you have a job that involves a lot of sitting, you will probably be able to return to work a few days following the surgery. If you are unsure, ask your doctor.
How long it takes your stitches to dissolve will depend on the type used, but they will generally disappear within 2 weeks. You will be given some instructions on looking after the wounds in your scrotum before you leave.
Vasectomy reversals rarely leads to serious complications; however, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks such as:
- Bleeding inside the scrotum
- This can lead to a hematoma (a collection of blood outside of the blood vessel) that causes painful swelling
- Infection at the wound site
- Although extremely uncommon, infections are a risk with all surgical procedures and may need treatment with antibiotics
- Chronic pain
- Some pain is expected in the days following the procedure; however, long-term pain in your testicles may require further medical assistance
- Hard lumps in your testicles (sperm granulomas)
- A sperm granuloma is a small lump that can develop following a vasectomy. A granuloma is not cancerous or life threatening
- Injury to blood vessels that cause your testicles to shrink (testicular atrophy)
- Blood in your semen the first few times you ejaculate
- Scar tissue which can block the vas deferens
- Numbness around the scrotum
Prognosis Following Vasectomy Reversal
It can take between 6-12 months before sperm return following a reverse vasectomy. Once your sperm comes back, your chances to conceive could go up however, vasectomy reversals are not always effective if there is an underlying issue with the testicle or a blockage occurs following the surgery. If you undergo a vasectomy reversal less than 10 years following your original vasectomy, you have a higher chance or conceiving.
At One Healthcare we can book you in to see a specialist Urological surgeon, usually within 48 hours, for an initial consultation. The vasectomy reversal procedure is available at One Ashford Hospital in Kent and One Hatfield Hospital in Hertfordshire.
You can use your private medical insurance or pay for your Vasectomy Reversal treatment. We offer competitive, fixed price packages as well as the ability to spread your cost with the option of 0% finance. If you are using your health insurance, please contact your insurer first for approval and let them know you’d like to be treated at One Ashford Hospital
Why One Ashford Hospital
- Access to leading Consultants within 48 hours*
- 0% and low interest finance options**
- Competitive fixed-price packages
- Modern purpose-built hospital
- Fast access to diagnostics including CT, MRI, X-Ray and Ultrasound
- Private, spacious, ensuite rooms
- Specialist Physiotherapy and nursing teams
- Little waiting time for surgery
- Calm, dignified experience
*Dependent on Consultant availability
**Terms and conditions apply