Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that helps prevent pregnancy. Although the chances are extremely low, women can get pregnant after vasectomy if the surgery fails.
During a vasectomy, the ends of the vas deferens (sperm duct) are cut and sealed to block the sperm from reaching the semen. This surgical procedure is considered a permanent male sterilization or contraception method.
If a couple wants to get pregnant after vasectomy, the reverse can be one option. Keep reading to know more about how vasectomy is done and your chances of getting pregnant after vasectomy.
How Is Vasectomy Done In Men?
There are three ways to get a vasectomy done (1).
- Conventional vasectomy: In this method, a scalpel is used to make an incision in the scrotal skin, which is sutured after the vasectomy is done.
- No-scalpel vasectomy: It is a quick and painless procedure done in the hospital by giving general anesthesia to the patient. The no-scalpel vasectomy is the most widely used method. The doctor makes a hole in the scrotum and pulls out the sperm duct, which is then tied and cut. This procedure takes 15-20 minutes and does not require any stitches.
After the procedure, the man can still ejaculate the semen, but without sperm (2). He needs to get a semen analysis done after three months of vasectomy to ensure that there is no sperm in the semen.
- Occlusion techniques: The vas is brought out by making an incision in the scrotal skin. It is then occluded using a suitable method such as ligation with sutures, division, cautery, application of clips, excision of a segment of the vas, fascial interpositioniXA technique that involves closure of the fascia (a connective tissue) above the prostatic cut end covering the vas deferens , or a combination of these.
The no-scalpel vasectomy is the most preferred procedure by men. Even that method can sometimes fail and there are chances of pregnancy after vasectomy. Want to know how? Read next.
Is Pregnancy Possible After Vasectomy?
A woman is likely to get pregnant even after the male partner undergoes a vasectomy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, less than 1% of women were likely to get pregnant after a vasectomy. Here are the reasons:
- After the vasectomy, the doctor must carry out a semen test to confirm zero sperm count. Having sex without confirming it could lead to pregnancy. For this reason, doctors advise you to use other contraceptives before the semen analysis is done.
- A failed vasectomy procedure enables the sperm to reach the penis through microscopic channels that are formed in the scar tissues of the patient, a process that is known as recanalization. A semen analysis helps in detecting these microscopic channels (3).
- Soon after the vasectomy, some sperm are still left in the semen. That is enough to impregnate a woman. A man needs to ejaculate 20-40 times after the vasectomy to get a nil count of sperm in the semen sample and should have the semen analysis done three months after the procedure (4).
Despite observing precautions and confirming zero sperm count, it may not always be possible to determine the reasons for pregnancy despite a successful vasectomy. Mary, a mother of three, became pregnant after her husband’s successful vasectomy, leaving the couple a bit perplexed and even concerned initially. She says, “We went to a different urologist for a second opinion. The lab results came back, and again, Jay (my husband) had zero sperm in his lab work. Definitely a successful vasectomy.”
Mary is candid about the social concerns pregnancy after vasectomy may cause, especially if the male partner has reconfirmed zero sperm count. She adds, “I know that most people reading this who don’t know me may think there must be another man, so before we could tell this story, we decided to have DNA testing done. Colin is indeed Jay’s son. Medically, we still don’t understand how (i).”
Considering there exists the potential to become pregnant even after a vasectomy, protected sex is essential to completely avoid pregnancy changes, which are shared in the subsequent section.
The following section explains the pregnancy success rates after vasectomy.
What Are The Chances Of Pregnancy After Vasectomy?
According to a survey, 177 of the 538 cases of vasectomy studied ended in pregnancies within five years after the procedure. Based on the total number of vasectomies performed by the surgeons who participated in the study, only around 1 pregnancy in 1,000 vasectomies was reported. Around 51% of pregnancies resulted from unprotected sex soon after the procedure (5). Moreover, statistics indicate that less than 1% of the vasectomies done may need to be repeated because they failed the first time (6).
If a couple decides to start a family after a vasectomy, there is still a chance to go ahead by undergoing a reversal surgical procedure. Read on to know about that.
How To Get Pregnant After Vasectomy?
Vasectomy reversal is a procedure done to reattach the sperm ducts. This initiates the flow of sperm into the semen. A couple who decides to have children later (after a family planning procedure like vasectomy) can opt for a reverse vasectomy as one of their options. But this method is not 100% effective and may not necessarily lead to conception (7).
Another alternative is to store the sperms in the sperm bank before undergoing the vasectomy procedure. This can help you have a baby even after some years.
But there are a few couples who managed to get pregnant even after vasectomy. Next, we have some such stories for you.
Stories On Pregnancy After Vasectomy
Here are two stories shared by couples, who had a failed vasectomy (8):
- Jane and her husband Dean, who live in Woking, Surrey, had two children. They decided to have no more children and went for a vasectomy. After eight months he got a clearance in the semen analysis report. It was going fine until Jane found herself to be pregnant again a few years later. This was a case of vasectomy failure and the couple decided to go ahead with the pregnancy.
- Sharon and Andy, a couple from Southbourne, Bournemouth, has four children. They decide to have a vasectomy done after their third child as Sharon had suffered from postnatal depression. They got a clean chit on the semen tests and they used alternative contraceptives to be on a safer side. One day Sharon missed her periods and got a positive pregnancy test result, which came as a shocking surprise to the couple. Later their son was born and they accepted him as God’s gift.
Next, we answer some commonly asked questions about pregnancy after vasectomy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which men are good candidates for a vasectomy? (9).
Men who are above 30 years and in a committed relationship can go for a vasectomy.
2. What are the complications of vasectomy?
The short-term complications include infection and bleeding. The long-term complications include post-vasectomy pain syndrome and sperm granuloma. Bleeding and hematomaiXAccumulation of clotted blood outside a blood vessel occur due to an injury caused to the pampiniform venous plexusiXA network of small veins present in the human male spermatic cord . Sperm granuloma results from the leakage of the sperm from the testicular vasal end. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome is the scrotal pain occurring after months or a year of vasectomy (10).
3. What are the advantages of no-scalpel vasectomy?
The no-scalpel vasectomy is less painful and reduces operative complications in comparison to the traditional incisional technique (11). It also reduces the operation time and is thus the most sought-after technique for a vasectomy.
4. Can a vasectomy reverse itself naturally?
No. If the vasectomy has been successfully conducted and confirmed with a negative semen analysis, it is permanent unless surgically reversed (12).
5. How much does it cost to extract sperm after vasectomy?
Extracting sperm or sperm aspiration after vasectomy is usually done as part of an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) package, which costs at an average of $12,400 (13).
A vasectomy is an effective and safe birth control method for men. It can be reversed with another procedure if the couple wants to have a child at any point in the future. Further, this procedure does not adversely impact one’s fertility or ability to become parents. Hence, with the current global need for population control, couples should consider this safe option for birth control. Consult your healthcare professional to ease any apprehensions or fears you may have if you are considering this option.
Infographic: Is It Possible To Retrieve Sperm After Vasectomy?
Surgical reversal of vasectomy or male sterilization surgery is less successful and more complex. Therefore, depending on individual factors, doctors may suggest various sperm retrieval procedures to collect sperm for in vitro fertilization. Sperm retrieval is coordinated with female partners’ egg retrieval for ICSI or IVF procedures. Go through the infographic to know sperm retrieval procedures after vasectomy.
- Vasectomy is a method of permanent sterilization or contraception that involves minor surgery to prevent sperm from reaching semen.
- The most popular technique for vasectomy is the no-scalpel vasectomy, which is performed under general anesthesia.
- Women can get pregnant after a vasectomy due to unsuccessful operations, sperm recanalization, and unprotected sex soon after the procedure.
- Couples who want to conceive children after vasectomy have the option of a reverse vasectomy or sperm preservation.
Vasectomy ensures pregnancy prevention while allowing future fertility. Learn more in this concise video!
Personal Experience: Source
- Reference Manual for Male Sterilization.
- Reproductive Health.
- Michel Labrecque et al.; (2006); Frequency and patterns of early recanalization after vasectomy.
- Permanent Contraception: Male Sterilisation (Vasectomy).
- Catherine Deneux-Tharaux et. al; (2003); Pregnancy rates after vasectomy: a survey of US urologists.
- Vasectomy Guideline (2015).
- Vasectomy reversals: Frequently asked questions
- We Became Pregnant After Our Men Had The Snip.
- Common Questions About Vasectomy.
- What are the risks of vasectomy?
- Reaching the Vas: No-Scalpel Vasectomy.
- Men’s Health Questions Answered: Vasectomy Reversal.
- Is In Vitro Fertilization Expensive?