Chances of Getting Pregnant After Vasectomy
Although a male vasectomy is performed as a permanent means of birth control, changes in marital status or reproductive goals may cause you to consider having the procedure reversed. In most cases, pregnancy after vasectomy is possible when a reversal is performed.
Pregnancy after vasectomy is not as simple as just having the reversal procedure. The procedure itself can be costly (often not covered by insurance), and it is not always effective. Several factors affect the success of a vasectomy reversal, including partner age, length of time since a vasectomy, type of vasectomy, and fertility issues prior to vasectomy.
However, you have a good chance of achieving pregnancy after vasectomy if there are no additional fertility issues and it has less than 8 years since your vasectomy. If it has been 9 or more years since your vasectomy, your chances of achieving pregnancy after vasectomy reversal drop below 50%. But overall, chances of getting pregnant after vasectomy are fairly high, with 50%-70% of couples conceiving.
What to expect after a vasectomy reversal
Vasectomy reversals have few post-operative complications. It is recommended that you avoid heavy physical activity for 3-4 weeks and avoid sexual intercourse for at least 2 weeks. On average, your sperm will return within 3-6 months after a male vasectomy reversal procedure. However, it may take longer to reach a favorable sperm count necessary for pregnancy after vasectomy.
Your doctor will perform a semen analysis to check your sperm count a few months after the procedure. If the results are good, it is likely you will be able to conceive within six months to a year. If the results aren’t good, your doctor will repeat the semen analysis in a few more months to see if it has simply taken longer for your sperm count to return to normal.
It is possible for couples to get pregnant as soon as a few weeks after a vasectomy reversal while others can take up to two years.
How quickly you achieve pregnancy after vasectomy reversal depends on a few factors:
- How long it takes for sperm to return
- What type of vasectomy repair was performed
- Other fertility issues
How to increase your chances of getting pregnant after vasectomy
Before you have your vasectomy reversed, it is important to have your female partner tested for fertility issues. If she has infertility factors, it may not make sense to perform a reversal if natural conception is unlikely. Also, if your female partner is over the age of 35, time is of the essence to conceive, and you may not want to wait up to a year after reversal surgery to see if your sperm return. In these cases, sperm retrieval and IVF may be the best option.
If you go ahead with a vasectomy reversal, here are some things you can do to improve your odds of getting pregnant:
- Avoid excessive heat in the groin area (hot tubs, hot baths, seat warmers, etc.), as heat harms sperm
- Stop drinking and smoking, as both affect sperm production and health
- Have frequent sex so you’re sure to catch her fertile window
- Use fertility friendly lubricants that won’t inhibit sperm mobility
When planning your vasectomy reversal surgery with your doctor, you might request that sperm be harvesting during the procedure in case the reversal is not effective. That way your sperm could be used later to achieve pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
What if vasectomy reversal is not effective?
If you are unable to conceive within a year and/or your sperm counts do not look good six or more months after you have had your vasectomy reversed, you should consider IVF. If your sperm was retrieved and frozen during your original vasectomy or the reversal, it can be used to fertilize your partner’s egg to achieve a successful pregnancy. If sperm were not banked during either procedure, testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) can be done to harvest your sperm prior to performing IVF.