The vasectomy reversal procedure is longer, more complicated, and more expensive than a vasectomy. Typically done in either a surgical center or hospital, this microsurgery can take several hours and usually requires general anesthesia. If the first attempt is unsuccessful, you'll usually be responsible for paying for a repeat procedure yourself (if you choose to have one). Thus, it's a good idea to carefully review a surgeon's training and experience.
What to Look For
Here are a few important things to keep in mind and ask about when selecting a vasectomy reversal doctor:
- Experience: While general surgeons and internal medicine doctors sometimes perform vasectomy reversals, the likelihood of a successful reversal increases when a surgeon has significant experience in performing these procedures.
- Training: Look for a board-certified urologist who has fellowship training in microsurgery and male infertility. This program provides doctors with four to six years of specialized training, and extensive surgerical experience on the genitourinary system (which includes the vas deferens and testicles).
- Number of vasectomy reversals performed: The likelihood of success is higher with a surgeon who focuses primarily on vasectomy reversals rather than one who only does them occasionally. Your doctor should also be willing to share his success rates for both patency (the return of sperm to the semen) and pregnancy.
- Microsurgery training: Although some research has found that microsurgery has similar success rates as surgeries that use a hand-held microscope loupe, other studies have found that the use of a surgical microscope yields better outcomes.
- Experience with vasovasostomy and epididymovasostomy: About one-third of all reversal patients will require the more complicated epididymovasostomy. But because your surgeon will not know beforehand whether this technique will be needed, it is important to choose a doctor who is prepared to perform either procedure.
A wide range of sources can provide you with information on vasectomy reversal surgeons in your area. These include:
- Online medical directories: These allow you to search for a doctor by location and specialty. They may also provide you with links to the doctor's website, and often include information about his or her credentials.
- Hospital or urology clinics: You can contact these directly to ask for information about doctors in the area who are qualified to perform vasectomy reversals. You may not have your vasectomy reversal in the hospital, but the hospital staff can provide you with a list of urologists who are affiliated with their group.
- Your primary care physician: Your personal doctor should also be able to refer you to qualified urologists who specialize in vasectomy reversals.
- Your health insurance provider: Vasectomy reversals are typically not covered by insurance, but you can check with your insurance provider directly for a list of qualified urologists in your area.
- Family or friends: People you know can often provide some of the best recommendations. Ask your family or family whether they have had a good experience with a particular urologist.
Once you have found several urologists who perform vasectomy reversals, dig deeper to find out more about their training and experience.
- Contact the doctor's office or look on their website to find information, brochures, or their professional curriculum vitae.
- Check with the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to verify that a physician is board-certified and able to provide services in your state. Another option is to contact state or local medical societies.
- Use your local hospitals as a resource. Hospitals examine the credentials of doctors before allowing them to practice at the hospital. This ensures that they have a certain level of training and experience.
Considering other Factors
While training and experience are important factors to consider when choosing a doctor to perform your vasectomy reversal, don't forget about other aspects that play a role.
- Location and convenience: While some people are willing to travel far to find a highly-qualified urologist, others prefer one who is nearby and has convenient hours, ample parking, or even access to public transportation.
- Language: Effective communication is important for optimal healthcare, so it's important to select a doctor with whom you can easily communicate.
- First impressions: You should feel comfortable with your physician and the office staff, so don't ignore intangibles, including how you're treated on the phone, office cleanliness, the staff's attitudes, or anything else that makes you feel either at ease or particularly uncomfortable.
Click here to find a vasectomy doctor near you.
Reviewed December 13, 2012 by Sarah K. Girardi, MD - Urologist
Chawla A, O'Brien J, Lisi M, et al. Should all urologists performing vasectomy reversals be able to perform vasoepididymostomies if required? J Urol. 2004; 172(3):1048-50.
Jee SH, Hong YK. One-layer vasovasostomy: microsurgical versus loupe-assisted. Fertil Steril. 2010; 94(6):2308-11.