Children after a vasectomy — is it possible?

November 15 2021   |   News

For all intents and purposes, vasectomy is a permanent surgical alteration. Once it’s done, there’s no going back. Although it doesn’t affect a man’s sex drive or his ability to enjoy sex, a vasectomy greatly decreases his chance of procreation.

This brings us to today’s question: children after a vasectomy—is it possible?

Although considered permanent, there are ways to reverse the procedure if need be. This article discusses everything you need to know about pregnancy after a vasectomy.

What is a vasectomy and how does it work?

The vasectomy is a permanent surgical procedure in which the vas deferens, the two ducts that carry sperm from the testicle to the urethra, are severed. The procedure is fairly common, with over 500,000 procedures carried out on male patients globally each year.

Cutting and sealing the vas deferens, effectively block sperm from entering semen, thus preventing pregnancy. The production of sperm decreases over time, making the man completely sterile.

The female version of the vasectomy is called tubal ligation. It follows just about the same procedure as a vasectomy, except instead of severing the vas deferens, the fallopian tubes are permanently blocked or removed.

What are the odds of pregnancy after a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is arguably the most effective birth control method available. Even so, there are cases where pregnancy occurs after a vasectomy.

Without medical intervention, pregnancy after the procedure is incredibly rare, occurring in 1 per every 1,000 to 4,000 vasectomies. Most of these instances occur two to three months after the procedure, which is why patients are advised to use another form of contraception during this period. 

How does a vasectomy fail?

Although incredibly rare, vasectomy failure does occur.

In some instances, it’s caused by a surgical error. The doctor might have snipped the wrong structure or cut the same vas deferens twice, leaving the other fully intact. The patient might also have an extra pair of vas deferens that the doctor may have missed, but this is an extremely rare congenital anomaly.

Vasectomy failure might also be caused by biological means. The snipped tubes may reattach on their own straight after the procedure, allowing sperm to wiggle through.

The vas deferens may also have grown back in a process called recanalisation, where tube-like cells grow from the end of the organ to form a connection. Recanalisation occurs in approximately 0.3% to 0.6% of cases.

How to get pregnant after a vasectomy

Pregnancy after the procedure is rare, so there’s very little chance it’ll occur. However, if you changed your mind after the procedure and decided you want a baby after all, medical intervention is necessary. In most cases, simply hoping for the best won’t do you any good.

There are two main ways to get pregnant after a vasectomy: vasectomy reversal or sperm extraction.

Vasectomy reversal

As the name suggests, a vasectomy reversal is a surgical procedure wherein the doctor reverses a vasectomy by reattaching the ends of the severed vas deferens.

Although the procedure doesn’t have a 100% success rate, it works 60% to 80% of the time. Upon the success of the surgery, you and your partner would have the same chance of pregnancy as everybody else as long as you have a healthy sperm count.

This reversal is ideal for individuals who’ve had a vasectomy within the last 12 to 15 years.

Sperm retrieval

If the reversal doesn’t work due to medical or personal reasons, the second option is to surgically extract or aspirate sperm from the vas deferens or from the testicles.

This procedure is performed under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. The doctor inserts a tiny needle into the chosen area and extracts the sperm. The sperm is then used to fertilize the partner’s eggs in a lab through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

The success rate of the sperm collection procedure for IVF is fairly high, especially if both partners are under the age of 35.

Lifestyle factors affect the success of this procedure, however. For instance, a smoker’s chance of implantation is 50% less than that of non-smokers. Obesity may also hinder a successful IVF implantation.

Final thoughts

Children after a vasectomy are possible with or without medical intervention. According to reports, pregnancy occurs every 1 to 4,000 procedures.

If you decide to opt for medical care, whether it be through vasectomy reversal or sperm extraction, the chance of pregnancy from 0.5% to up to 60 to 80%. This is good news for individuals who want children years after the vasectomy. Both procedures are quick and almost always risk-free, making them a superb choice for partners who want a family.

If you are considering the snip or need help with a vasectomy reversal, Summerfield Healthcare’s Private Vasectomy service is here to help. Contact us 0333 9000 010.