Approximately 5% of men who get a vasectomy later go on to get a vasectomy reversal. This figure is higher for men under 30, and for those not in a stable relationship at the time of their vasectomy.
Vasectomy reversal is not covered under MSP (Medical Services Plan), and currently costs five thousand to seven thousand dollars in Canada.
The technical names for this procedure are vasovasostomy and vasoepididymostomy depending on the level that the surgery is performed at, and the success rate differs between these two techniques. The best is the standard vasovasostomy, where the vas tube itself can be directly joined back up with very fine stitch material in two layers. This gives a success rate in getting sperm back into the ejaculate of over 90%. The alternative vasoepedidymostomy is done when the surgeon cannot find an open section of vas tube on the lower end, and finds he must connect the upper end of the vas to the lower tubing called the epididymis. This gives a success rate of about 60%.
General anaesthetic is required for a vasectomy reversal due to the long surgery time (two to three hours) and the need to stay absolutely still for all that time. An operating microscope is used, and very fine stitches are applied to successfully join the tubes back up again.
‘Early’ reversals have a better rate of resulting pregnancy. If your reversal is done in the first five years there is approximately 50 to 70% chance that your partner will become pregnant, but if you leave it over ten years that drops to 30 to 50%.
In the event that your vasectomy reversal does not work, or pregnancy is not happening, there are other methods available. Sperm can be retrieved in a fertility clinic under local anaesthetic by aspirating from the epididymis or from the testicle. Sperm retrieved in this way are then used to artificially fertilize an egg in the lab, and the fertilized egg is placed in the uterus. You can see that this is time consuming, fiddly, and expensive, but the success rates are good