If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering getting a vasectomy and have a few questions before you proceed. As a leading vasectomist, we often encounter men who ask us whether a vasectomy lasts forever. Can it be reversed if you change your mind? Will the vasectomy ‘wear off’ after a few years?
What exactly is a vasectomy?
To answer whether or not a vasectomy lasts for life or not, it’s first important to understand what a vasectomy is. So, how does it work?
A traditional vasectomy typically involves patients going under general anaesthetic. A sharp scalpel is used to slice into the skin of the scrotum on both sides, where a doctor locates the two tubes that carry semen from each teste to the penis. They then cut through the skin and spermatic cord blood vessels.
A no-scalpel vasectomy, the type of vasectomy performed at Dr Snip, is quicker and doesn’t require a general anaesthetic. Instead of slicing into the scrotal skin on both sides, we use an innovative single microKeyhole™ technique to access the vasa. We then make a tiny incision in each vas (tube) and seal off the end that leads to the prostate. This step is called mucosal cautery and is done to help ensure that the two ends of the vas can’t reconnect and again carry sperm to the penis.
Is a vasectomy permanent?
At Dr Snip, we believe a vasectomy should be viewed as a permanent form of birth control. For this reason, we strongly recommend that all of our patients take time to consider whether a vasectomy is the best choice for them. Those who are ready for a vasectomy should have no desire to have children at any point in the future.
Am I sterile immediately after a vasectomy?
Sterility after a vasectomy takes approximately 8-12 weeks – and for some as little as 2 weeks. That’s why the Dr Snip team recommends that, until you’ve had a sperm count test (12 weeks after your vasectomy), you should use other forms of contraception – just to be sure! The sperm count test involves taking a specimen of your semen to a pathology centre where it will be sent away to be examined for sperm. When no sperm are found, sterility has been achieved.
So, can a vasectomy be reversed?
Technically, a vasectomy can be reversed using two methods. A microsurgical reversal operation can be performed, with a success rate of 90% within the first five years. This can be expensive, invasive and less successful over time. It can also result in a low sperm count.
The second option is ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) which involves injecting into an egg either a mature sperm from semen stored before the vasectomy or an immature sperm obtained by way of needle biopsy from the testes. This ‘IVF’ procedure requires pre-planning so that sperm storage can be arranged prior to the procedure.
Can a vasectomy fail or ‘wear off’?
The failure rate of a Dr Snip vasectomy is about 1 in 1000 – compared with 1 in 300 for the traditional method and, once successful, the vasectomy doesn’t wear off.
In extremely rare cases where the tubes are not blocked off fully, if they grow back together or if a third tube (vas deferens) exists, you can become fertile again. This is typically picked up during the sperm count test, performed 12-weeks after the procedure. One in 10 patients still have sperm present and repeat tests are performed monthly until none remain.
Ready to get the ball(s) rolling?
When you choose to get a vasectomy with Dir Snip, Australia’s most experienced vasectomy team, you’ll be joining over 40,000 Australian men who have already had the snip at one of our clinics. If you have any questions, we’re happy to help. Just call our team on 1300 377 647 or send us an online enquiry.