If vasectomy reversal, also known a vasovasostomy, is a procedure that you and your husband are considering, there are some things your husband likely wants to know but is afraid or embarrassed to ask. He may not feel comfortable bringing these up to you, but there is no reason you can't slide these facts into the conversation to help ease his fears. The decision to undergo this procedure typically progresses slowly. In particular, if you are more interested in it than he is, having ready answers to his concerns may help you convince him that it is the right decision for your family.
Is It Painful?
Most men find a vasectomy reversal no more painful than the original vasectomy. Reversal is even something recommended for men who have chronic pain after the original vasectomy! Some surgeons can do the procedure without needles if that is something that intimidates your husband. Post operative pain is usually mild and well controlled with ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Is It Expensive?
Vasectomy reversal is a much more complicated procedure than a vasectomy, takes longer to perform and requires much more specialized training and equipment. Reversal costs range from about $2500 to $12000 depending on the location of the procedure. Having it done in a hospital and under general anesthesia increases the cost significantly. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and adoption are often much more expensive than vasectomy reversal.
Is It Successful?
Reversal of a vasectomy very often results in return of sperm to the ejaculate of men. The concentration and motility of the sperm are typically not as good as prior to a vasectomy, however. In addition, the fertility of the partner plays a large role in pregnancy. Pregnancy rates in most studies range from 60%-80%.
Is There Another Option?
Adopting a child is always an option, but couples can achieve pregnancy by using a sperm donor with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF. For couples who desire for their child to be genetically related to them, sperm can be obtained in other ways. Sperm aspiration, the most common method, involves the insertion of a needle into the scrotum to collect sperm to be used in IVF or IUI. This is not always successful, and can lessen the chance that a subsequent vasectomy reversal would work.
Is It Dangerous?
Any surgery carries some risk, and vasectomy reversal is no different. Bruising and swelling are very typical of this procedure. Uncommonly is the swelling so dramatic that it needs to be drained. Infection is rare when proper surgical technique is followed. Some underlying health problems could increase these risks, however, so be sure to tell his reversal specialist!
How Long Am I Restricted?
Most surgeons recommend at least two weeks of refraining from ejaculation after reversal. The concern is that aggressive pressure on the repair could cause it to leak and rupture. Activities that require significant exertion like running and jumping or lifting heavy objects is typically restricted for three weeks. While there isn't evidence that these restrictions are required, these are reasonable based on common sense since the repair is made very delicately. It is possible that vigorous activity could disrupt the fine sutures holding things together, wasting your time and money.
How Long Will The Repair Last?
Theoretically the vas should stay open and he should continue to be fertile indefinitely. The sperm count often does go down with time, however, likely due to scar tissue slowly growing at the site of the junction of the two ends of the vas. If you are going to get a reversal, you should plan to try to achieve pregnancy within the first two years. Once you are finally done with your family's growth, it is possible for him to get a vasectomy again. The frequent surgery to the scrotum increases the risks of chronic pain developing, however, and he should discuss this with his physician.
Your husband undoubtedly has more questions than just these. To help him become comfortable with the decision and the procedure, have him discuss his concerns with a vasectomy reversal physician. The physician should be able to give him the information needed to help both of you decide if a vasectomy reversal is the right thing for your family. If your husband is uncomfortable asking those questions, he may prefer for you to email or call the physician's office for answers.