Sometimes, life doesn’t go in the direction you think it will, making you question some of the more permanent decisions you seemed so sure of—like becoming a vegan or that lower-back tattoo.
Luckily for men who begin to rethink their decision to become permanently sterile with a vasectomy, there are post-vasectomy pregnancy options if you have a change of heart and dream of making a baby.
Your Vasectomy 4-1-1
During a vasectomy, a doctor enters the testes to snip the vas deferens, which blocks sperm from mixing with semen during ejaculation. The 20-minute procedure is performed in a doctor’s office and about 500,000 men choose it as a permanent form of birth control in the U.S. each year since it has a 0.4% failure rate. The vasectomy procedure costs less than $1,000 and is often covered by insurance.
But things happen, like getting remarried after a divorce or death of a spouse or sometimes a guy changes his mind about not wanting to have children. Whatever path leads a man to reconsider his vasectomy, he will arrive at a fork where he needs to decide whether to have a vasectomy reversal or undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) with his partner.
Let’s break it down.
What are fertility options after vasectomy?
For most men who are rethinking a vasectomy, there are two paths to fertility:
- Vasectomy Reversal: However a man comes to the decision to father a child, he’s not alone—about 6 percent of men choose to have a vasectomy reversal. But unlike the original vasectomy procedure, getting it undone is considered major surgery requiring more time to perform, a longer recovery period, and a much higher fee that isn’t typically covered by insurance. During a vasectomy reversal surgery, or vavosectomy, the surgeon reconnects the severed vas deferens that allows the sperm to once again become a part of the ejaculate
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Depending on the age of a man’s partner and whether she’s had fertility issues, IVF might be the best route to pregnancy and—unlike vasectomy reversal—it requires a team effort. It’s a multi-step procedure that involves the harvesting of an egg and sperm, and fertilization is encouraged in a lab setting. The resulting embryo is then implanted into a woman’s uterus and most couples will have to go through a few rounds of the IVF procedure before delivering a baby.
Which option is right for you?
Your decision to go either the IVF or vasectomy reversal surgery route is going to be based on three main factors:
- How long it’s been since the vasectomy
- Your partner’s age
- Whether your partner has had a history of fertility issues
If the woman is over 35, has struggled with fertility, or the vasectomy was performed over five years ago, then IVF is the best option to conceive after vasectomy.
Advantages and disadvantages of vasectomy reversal
While vasectomy reversal is about one half the cost of a single cycle of IVF, the success of a procedure is dependent upon:
- The skill of the surgeon
- The age of the female partner
- The age of the vasectomy
Despite your due diligence, there’s no guarantee of conception. Some couples are lucky enough to get pregnant a few weeks after the procedure while others have to wait two years. On average though, it takes about six months to get pregnant following vasectomy reversal. To see if you are fertile after your vasectomy reversal, check with SpermCheck.
Advantages and disadvantages of IVF
IVF can often be the quicker route to pregnancy and you won’t have to use birth control following the pregnancy. For men, it’s also much less invasive. But IVF is significantly more expensive than a vasectomy reversal and the procedure for women is highly invasive. Also, if more than a single embryo is transferred, the result might lead to more than one baby. The procedure would also have to be repeated if you want additional children in the future.
We all change our minds. What seems like a good idea in our 20s or 30s might look completely different as we get older. The good news is if you’re second guessing your decision to have a vasectomy and want to start a family, you have some solid options.