One of the selling points of a vasectomy is the possibility of a vasectomy reversal. Statistically speaking, however, only one percent of all vasectomized males actually pursue a vasectomy reversal. Couples may change their minds on parenthood, or the man may get remarried following widowhood or divorce. Some men may have religious reasons for reversing a contraceptive procedure. The good news is that vasectomy reversal is indeed possible, but it is not an easy procedure and there is a significant failure rate to consider.
There are different microsurgical procedures for vasectomy reversal. The most common procedure, called a vasovasostomy, uses very fine sutures to reconnect the severed ends of the vas deferens. The vas deferens are the tubes which connect the epididymis, located on the testes, to the prostate gland. During vasovasostomy, a surgeon reopens the sealed and possibly scarred vas deferens and sutures the ends back together. Hopefully, the sperm stored in the epididymis will once again flow into the prostate gland and eventually into the man’s semen, or ejaculate.
For some men, however, a vasectomy reversal can become more complicated. A second procedure called a vasoepididymostomy must be performed if there are any blockages between the epididymis and prostate gland. Sometimes the vas deferens becomes so scarred that it cannot be reopened safely. During a vasoepididymostomy, the surgeon attaches a healthy portion of the vas deferens directly to an opening created in the epididymis. This type of vasectomy reversal is much more delicate than the vasovasosotomy, and the overall failure rate is higher.
The failure rate of vasectomy reversal surgery used to be much higher during the early years of the procedure. Although there are few surgical reasons why any vasectomy cannot be reversed, the reality was that only a few men ever recovered enough sperm production to be considered fertile. With advances in microsurgery and better understanding of the male reproductive system, however, the success rate of vasectomy reversal surgery has reached 80 percent or higher. At least 50 percent of all couples who seek vasectomy reversal become pregnant following the most common vasovasostomy procedure. The success rate following the more complicated vasoepididymostomy is not quite as high, but this surgery wasn’t even possible a generation ago.