If your partner has had a vasectomy reversal, there are several factors that may increase your likelihood for getting pregnant.
During a vasectomy, a surgeon disconnects the tubes-or the vas deferens--that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. This procedure generally requires a few small surgical cuts and can be done in the office; it can also be performed using laser. For around two months after the procedure, a secondary form of birth control should be utilized; at this time, the surgeon will request a semen sample for a sperm count. If the sperm count from this sample is zero, the vasectomy has been a success and pregnancy is unlikely.
But what happens if you and your partner change your mind about having children after a successful vasectomy procedure? This procedure can be reversed but the percentage of successful pregnancies gets smaller the more time has passed since the vasectomy was originally performed.
Odds of Successful Vasectomy Reversal
Even if a man had a vasectomy over 15 years ago, it is still possible to have a successful reversal. According to a large study by the Vasectomy Study Group, researchers determined the success rates of vasectomies performed:
- Less than 3 years ago: The odds of success are highest with approximately 97 percent of men having sperm present in the semen again. The pregnancy rate is seventy-six percent for this group.
- Between 3-8 years ago: Eighty-eight percent of these men have sperm in the semen but the pregnancy rate decreases to 53 percent.
- Between 9-14 years ago: Almost 80 percent of men in this group have sperm present in the semen, but the pregnancy rate is only around 44 percent.
- More than 15 years ago: Seventy-one percent of men have sperm in the semen; however, successful pregnancies occur only 30 percent of the time in this population.
The doctor may also be able to give a general estimate of the rate of success of the procedure during initial examination but there is no way to be sure ahead of time. Occasionally, a man may need a second reversal if the first one does not work.
How to Get Pregnant After a Vasectomy Reversal
It is important to be sure that the female in the partnership is able to get pregnant naturally. If she has fertility issues, other methods of conceiving like IVF or sperm aspiration may be a better option to start with. Planning sex during the fertile time of the month can improve your odds of pregnancy. Using ovulation tests, basal body temperature charting, or cervical mucus testing can help you plan sexual intercourse for the most fertile days.
Other factors may play a role in successful pregnancies after a man has a vasectomy reversal. The following re are some things that you can do to improve your chances of a successful pregnancy.
Changing What You Wear
- Scrotum supporter: Wearing a scrotum supporter during the healing period may improve the chances of getting pregnant after reversal surgery. These can be obtained from a medical supply store.
- Wear boxer shorts instead of briefs: After the six week healing period is completed, a man should wear boxer shorts to allow more air to circulate around the testicles. This also keeps the testicles cooler, which may increase sperm count.
- Supplements: Some research suggests that supplements like vitamins E, C, B-12, and zinc may help with sperm counts. These preparations are available over-the-counter.
- Avoiding soy products: Soy products contain weak estrogens, which may be damaging to sperm. Some experts may suggest avoiding soy products while trying to get pregnant.
- Changing beverages: Decreasing consumption of caffeine and alcohol can also be beneficial when trying to get pregnant. Both substances can lower sperm counts.
Possible Problems Following a Vasectomy Reversal
ASA antibodies: After a vasectomy, most men will develop anti-sperm antibodies because sperm still continues to be produced but the body perceived that they are "foreign" and creates antibodies to attack them. After a reversal, the antibodies are often still present and can cause problems. These antibodies can bind to the sperm and compromise the sperm's ability to travel in the female reproductive tract; these sperm are also unable to bind with the female egg as well.
Epididymis Obstruction: If sperm counts do not return after a vasectomy reversal, it may be due to an epididymis obstruction. The epididymis collects the sperm as it is created and carries them to the vas deferens. A blockage may prevent the sperm from leaving the body.
Options If a Vasectomy Reversal Doesn't Work
It can take some time to get pregnant after vasectomy reversal-in many cases, it may take at least six months. For other couples, it may take up to 24 months. There is no specific timeframe for how long you should try to conceive, however, you should discuss any concerns with your physician because the situations may vary for each couple. Older couples may want to consider fertility assistance sooner because the window of conceiving is shorter.
Assisted forms of reproduction like Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection or IVF may be successful for these couples.
Understanding how to get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal may require some research and lifestyle changes, but many couples get pregnant and carry the pregnancy to term.