Surgery for men
Some men who don’t produce sperm naturally, or who have a blockage preventing sperm from coming out, can have surgery to increase their chances of conceiving. This includes men with fertility issues following chemotherapy and men who want to try and reverse a vasectomy. Find out more about common surgical procedures for fertility.
Can you reverse a vasectomy?
If you’ve previously had a vasectomy, it’s possible to reverse it in around 60 – 80% of cases. If successful, you’d be able to conceive naturally, providing neither you nor your partner have any other fertility problems.
Your decision to have a vasectomy reversal is likely to be affected by a number of different factors, including:
- the length of time since your vasectomy
- your partner’s age
- the number of children you want to have
- the costs involved (as a reversal is not available on the NHS).
Generally, if your vasectomy was less than 12 to 15 years ago, you want to have more than one child, and you have a female partner who’s under 35, a vasectomy reversal is usually the preferred approach.
If your vasectomy was 15 to 20 years ago (or more) and you have an older female partner, you may be recommended to have sperm extracted surgically to use in a fertility treatment like ICSI.
The aim of a vasectomy reversal is to re-join the cut ends of the vas deferens. If the surgeon is not able to join the two ends of the vas, it may be possible to join the upper ends of the epididymis to the vas deferens instead. Unfortunately, the results of this are not as good as those from directly re-joining the vas.
It may be sensible to consider extracting sperm for freezing from the testicles at the time of a vasectomy reversal as sometimes the operation may not be successful, or the vas can close up again.
If you have an unsuccessful vasectomy reversal, your chances of being successful a second time around are lower. Talk to your doctor about your options.
What’s my chance of having a baby following a vasectomy reversal?
It’s difficult to say as it depends on your personal circumstances and how long ago you had your vasectomy. Factors that may affect your chances of success with vasectomy reversal include:
- if you have waited more than 10 years between vasectomy and reversal
- if too much of the vas deferens was removed during the vasectomy
- your partner’s age
- if your partner has fertility problems.
Review date: 5 July 2019