A vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilization, which means that, in principle, it is used to prevent conception permanently. However, although it is considered a permanent, irreversible birth control method, there exists the possibility of restoring your fertility by means of vasectomy reversal surgery, and therefore trying to conceive again naturally.
So, actually, your realistic possibility of getting pregnant is considerably high, given the wide range of options available for you to achieve pregnancy again: From a vasectomy reversal to IVF, ICSI, sperm freezing, using donor sperm, etc.
The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.
Is pregnancy possible?
In principle, a vasectomy is a surgical method of male sterilization, only recommended to those patients who have made the rational decision of not having more children. However, due to a varied range of life circumstances (meeting someone new, changing priorities…), a man who have had a vasectomy done may regret it.
For this reason, a frequently asked question among men who regret having a vasectomy is if they will have the chance of having another baby in spite of it.
It should be reminded that a vasectomy involves severing the vasa deferentia to prevent spermatozoa, which are produced in the testicles, from being present in the semen after ejaculation. If the semen does not contain sperms, pregnancy won’t happen.
Every patient who undergoes a vasectomy is required to ejaculate several times in a row during a determined period of time in order to ensure that no sperms are present in the semen. In other words, a vasectomy is not effective immediately but requires a reasonable time period and various ejaculations to make sure that the sperm count is zero.
It should be clear that sperm production (spermatogenesis) continues in spite of vasectomy. The difference is that the sperms cannot leave the testes because their pathway is blocked. So, it is only logical that, if we allow them to complete their journey again, male fertility will be restored.
This process is known as vasectomy reversal or vasovasostomy. You can find more information about this surgical procedure to reconnect the male reproductive tract in the following section:
Vasovasostomy (VV) is an operation to reconnect the ends of the vasa deferentia after being severed by a vasectomy. By doing this, we allow spermatozoa to be present again in the ejaculate, thereby opening a new possibility for the couple to get pregnant naturally. It is a complex type of surgery that takes about two hours.
First and foremost, we should keep in mind that the success rates of a vasectomy reversal are not 100%, which is to say, not every man who undergoes this procedure is able to conceive again naturally. Sperm quality may be too poor or insufficient for natural conception to occur.
The chances of getting pregnant naturally after a vasectomy reversal or vasovasostomy are about 64%.
Also, it may happen that the procedure is unsuccessful: The passage of sperm through the vasa deferentia continues being blocked. Actually, the chances for this technique to be successful depend on the way in which the ends of the vasa deferentia were sealed, as well as the expertise of the surgeon who performed it.
Percentage of pregnancy
The interval of time between vasectomy and vasectomy reversal plays a major role when it comes to determining the success of a vasovasostomy, and subsequently the chances for a couple to conceive naturally.
The shorter this time period, the higher the odds for the man to restore his fertility. To sum up:
- More than 10-15 years: low percentage of pregnancy.
- Less than 5 years: over 90% of patients are able to conceive again.
To determine whether VV has been successful, it is necessary to perform various semen analyses in a row. By doing this, we can see if sperms are present in the ejaculate again eventually.
The first semen analysis is done within 2-3 months after the procedure, and the subsequent ones are done between intervals of 2-3 months as well, up until the sperm count is within the normal range or a pregnancy is achieved.
On average, couples are able to conceive within 12 months after the vasectomy reversal surgery. Nevertheless, at times, this time period is longer, or it may be necessary to combine VV with a fertility treatment such as IVF.
Other pregnancy options
For those males who do not wish to undergo surgery or in those cases where it has not allowed the couple to achieve pregnancy, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) offers a varied range of options, including:
Vasoepididymostomy (VE) or epididymovasostomy (EV) is another surgical procedure to restore your fertility after a vasectomy, although it is more technical demanding than a vasectomy reversal surgery. In fact, it is the option of choice when a VV has failed or performing it is not possible.
VE consists in connecting the cut ends of the vas deferens directly to the epididymis. It can take longer than a vasovasostomy (about five hours or more), and the success rates are lower—40% or less.
Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA)
TESA or TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction) is a standard surgical procedure whereby spermatozoa are retrieved directly from the epididymis or the testis.
It involves the aspiration a sample from the fluid contained within the testis or the epididymis. Afterwards, the sample is taken to the laboratory in order to search for the presence of spermatozoa. The few viable sperms found are injected each into an egg cell by ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).
The resulting embryos that are viable will be transferred to the uterus of the patient’s wife or partner.
A testicular biopsy is a procedure whereby a small portion of tissue from the testis is removed, with the goal of finding at least one viable sperm cell that is able to fertilize the egg by means of ICSI.
Although the steps involved in this technique are quite similar to TESA, the main difference between them is that sperm retrieval is not done by aspirating spermatozoa directly from the testis/epididymis, but by excising tissue from the testis and removing a small sample.
It is done using local anesthesia and takes about 15-20 minutes.
Want to learn more about this method? Check this article out: What Is a Testicular Biopsy?
An additional option for men who decide to opt for a vasectomy is freezing a sperm sample before the operation. This option gives patients the chance of conceiving again should they regret having had a vasectomy done in the future. With this option, turning to a fertility treatment is required after thawing the sample.
Based upon the quality of sperm after going through the freezing-thawing process, the method chosen will be Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), classical In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).
Using donor sperm is often a last resort option, as it means that the intended father won’t share his DNA with the unborn baby. In any case, it is an option to have children after a vasectomy when the options listed above do not work.
If you want to learn more about this fertility option, do not hesitate to visit the following post: How Does Sperm Donation Work?
All the options mentioned throughout this post require the couple to undergo a fertility treatment, even if the woman does not have any issues related to her fertility.
If you opt for an epididymal aspiration or a testicular biopsy, it is required that the woman undergoes ovarian stimulation, followed by ovum pick-up (egg retrieval), and finally fertilization occurs by means of ICSI. The overall cost of this procedure ranges from $4,000 to 6,000 on average, without including medications.
On the other hand, sperm freezing is a more cost-affordable option: between $350 and $450. If you produce high-quality sperm, pregnancy is likely to occur by IUI. The average price of IUI with the husband’s sperm is $500-1,000.
With donor sperm, the cost of intrauterine insemination would be higher—around $1,000-3,000 depending on the fertility clinic chosen.
You can get detailed estimates or quotations from different fertility clinics, both from the USA and other countries around the world. All you have to do is fill out the following form with basic information about your own personal situation: Cost Calculator.
FAQs from users
Can I get pregnant if my husband had a vasectomy 10 years ago?
If the vasectomy was done properly, the chances of getting pregnant are almost non-existent. In any case, it is usually confirmed after several seminograms in a row. Should the result of all of them confirm the total absence of sperm in the ejaculate (zero sperm count), we can say that you can’t get pregnant naturally if your husband had a vasectomy 10 years ago.
How soon can you get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal?
It should be noted that spermatogenesis (production of sperm) takes around 3 to 4 months to finish. Keeping this in mind, it is estimated that, after a vasectomy reversal, it can take a couple of cycles of spermatogenesis for a man to be able to cause pregnancy on a woman again under optimal conditions.
How common is it to get pregnant after a vasectomy?
If carried with accuracy, the average failure rate of vasectomy is 0.15 percent. However, given that it depends on the expertise of the surgeon who performed it and the quality of the clinic, giving an accurate picture of its effectiveness is considerably difficult. Anyway, most failures occur after the first months after the procedure.
What are the average IVF success rates after vasectomy?
IVF success rates after vasectomy range between 25% and 50%, although they vary depending on the age of the woman to a large extent. For IVF to be done after a vasectomy, sperm retrieval from the male’s testis is required. Anyway, we recommend that you schedule a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist before getting started.
Can you get pregnant after a vasectomy after a year?
On average, the rates of pregnancy after one year are 1/1,000 approximately, and between 2-10/1,000 after 5 years, due to the risk that the ducts reconnect on their own.
Is IVF possible after tubal ligation and vasectomy?
Yes, IVF with own eggs and own sperm is still possible. Just like the man continues producing sperm in spite of vasectomy and the sperms can be retrieved by different means, the woman’s ovaries still produce egg cells that can be retrieved by means of follicle puncture.
Suggested for you
As we have just read, vasectomy reversal surgery or vasovasostomy is not always effective. For this reason, you should think about it twice before deciding that you will not want more children in the future. To help you make such decision, we recommend that you read carefully the following post: What Is Vasectomy & What Does It Involve?
Finally, in case a vasectomy reversal does not give you the possibility of becoming a father again, you can be sure that there’s a fertility treatment that can allow you to achieve it. To learn about the different techniques available nowadays, click here: What Are Infertility Treatments? – Definition, Types & Costs.