Can You Reverse a Vasectomy If You Want Another Baby?

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Most of the time when a couple decides that the male half should get a vasectomy, it’s because they are DO-NE (pronounced with two syllables) having kids. They’ve changed a lifetime’s worth of poopy diapers, listened to way too many Elmo songs, and stood over their share of tantruming kids. But what if they’re gripped by an unexpected case of baby fever post-vasectomy? Can you reverse a vasectomy?

The good news is that a vasectomy reversal is more possible today than ever before.

A vasectomy is a form of permanent male sterilization. It’s a simple outpatient surgery where the small tubes in the scrotum (the vas deferens) that carry sperm are cut or blocked off. Vasectomies are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (which sounds inflated because we all know at least one person who had a vasectomy pregnancy). Before performing the procedure, doctors will caution men that a vasectomy is permanent. But, that’s not exactly true.

Michael had several vasectomy reversals

Image: NBC

So, can you reverse a vasectomy? In most cases, a vasectomy actually can be reversed.

There are instances where a man’s vas deferens are too clogged or damaged to be fixed, but those are rare. According to the Mayo Clinic, success rates with vasectomy reversal will range from about 40 percent to over 90 percent. Contrary to popular belief, the length of time between a vasectomy and a reversal is not a factor. “That’s generally not true,” said Dr. Edmund Sabanegh, Chair of Urology at Cleveland Clinic. “We’ve done reversals on men who are decades out from vasectomy and had success.”

Dr. Sabanegh said that a bigger indicator of a vasectomy reversal’s success is how well the original surgery went and if anything has impacted a man’s fertility since then. “If you have been through radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer, your fertility may be affected,” Sabanegh said.

Just because a man has had a vasectomy doesn’t mean his body has stopped making sperm. “This is a surprise to many men,” said Dr. Sabanegh. “After a vasectomy, your testicles continue to produce sperm. It just no longer has a way out of the body. Because of this, your normal fertility is restored by a reversal.”

That being said, a vasectomy reversal does not guarantee a pregnancy —the health and fertility of the mother is a big factor. That being said, Web MD says that, in general, a reversal leads to overall pregnancy rates of greater than 50%.

(Image: iStock / vadimguzhva)