March 29, 2002 -- Men who've had a vasectomy and want to become fathers may now have a better chance at getting their partner pregnant than in years past. A new study shows vasectomy reversal has become more effective than alternative procedures in restoring male fertility.
Researchers found 43% of men who chose to have a vasectomy reversal 15 years or more after the initial procedure were able to achieve pregnancy with their partner. That success rate is slightly better than in men who have a sperm extraction procedure combined with in vitro fertilization (40%).
Based on previous research, men who wait more than 15 years to reverse a vasectomy are thought to have the greatest difficulty. A vasectomy consists of cutting the ducts that carry the sperm from the testes to the penis, and a reversal re-attaches these ducts.
The study found that the biggest factor affecting pregnancy rates after vasectomy reversal was actually the age of the female partner. If the woman was under 30, the couple had a 64% chance of conceiving. If she was over 40, the pregnancy rate dropped to 28%.
The longer a man waited to reverse the procedure also reduced his chances of getting his partner pregnant. Those who waited 15-19 years before the reversal got pregnant 49% of the time vs. 33% for those who waited 20-25 years.
The study is published in the March issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Researchers say the surgical techniques and technology involved in performing vasectomies have improved in recent years, and success rates in achieving pregnancy after reversal have risen as a result. Those findings suggest that vasectomy reversal may be a better option than the assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.