Updated December 2018
Although vasectomies should be viewed as a permanent form of birth control, there may be certain circumstances in which a man desires to have his vasectomy reversed. If this is the case, questions might arise about how long it takes for a vasectomy reversal to result in pregnancy.
Vasectomy reversal and odds of achieving pregnancy
While there are no definitive answers, research indicates that, if a reversal is successful, it can take anywhere from three months to several years for couples to get pregnant. Some studies have demonstrated that up to 75 percent of all vasectomy reversals ultimately lead to natural pregnancies, with over half occurring in the first two years.
Factors that affect conception after vasectomy reversal
There are several factors that impact whether conception will occur and how quickly:
Type of vasectomy reversal procedure
The type of vasectomy reversal procedure a man has will impact reversal success and pregnancy outcomes. Men who have a vasovasostomy—the shorter and simpler of the two types of reversal procedures—tend to have higher success rates than those who have undergone a vasoepididymostomy. The vasoepididymostomy is a more complicated procedure, and it is performed when a surgeon believes that the vas deferens tube is blocked closer to the testicle, in a coiled part of the vas deferens known as the epididymis. Because patients who have had a vasoepididymostomy tend to have longer periods of impaired sperm motility, it tends to take longer for their partner to conceive.
Time since the vasectomy procedure
The amount of time between the original vasectomy procedure and the vasectomy reversal also affects the length of time it will take to conceive. In general, higher success rates have been reported when the reversal is performed closer to the original vasectomy procedure, especially if less than five years. After 10 years of a vasectomy, pressure within the vas deferens can cause a rupture or blockage in the epididymis. This blockage requires a micro-surgeon to perform a more difficult vas-to-epididymis reconstruction, which causes the success rate to decrease.
Maternal and paternal age
If a woman is over 35, her hormone levels and ovulation cycles may be harder to predict; if a man is over 50, the quality or concentration of his sperm may slightly decrease. Both of these can increase the amount of time to conception. Talk to your urologist about which alternative methods for conception, such as in vitro fertilization, might be an option.
What it boils down to
There is no perfect way to predict when, or if, a couple will be able to get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal. But talking to a doctor can help couples understand their own personal chances of success, which obstacles may stand in the way of conception, and whether a reversal is a right choice.
Busato, W.F. (2009). Vasectomy reversal: A seven-year experience. Urologia Internationalis, 82(2), 170-174.
Graham, S.D., & Keane, T.E. (2009). Glenn's urologic surgery. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Labrecque, M., Durfresne, C., Baone, M.A., & St-Hilaire, K. (2004). Vasectomy surgical techniques: A systematic review. BMC Medicine, 2, 21-32.
Palkhivala, A. (2006). Vasectomy reversal: Data point to choice of technique. Urology Times, 43(2), 23, 41.
Reviewed By Ryan P. Smith, MD
On December 17,2018