What is vasectomy reversal?

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Vasectomy reversal: Overview

Vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) reconnects the tubes (vas deferens) that were cut during a vasectomy. A vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control. But reversal surgery may let a man father a child after a vasectomy.

The doctor makes two small cuts (incisions) on both sides of the scrotum. Then the two ends of the tubes are joined. Sperm can now move through this tube to the penis.

Vasectomy reversal usually doesn't require an overnight stay in the hospital.

You may go back to work or your normal routine in 1 week. Lie down as much as you can for the next week.

How can you care for yourself after a vasectomy reversal?

Activity

  • Lie down as much as you can for the first 24 hours. Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • After the first day, try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for about 4 weeks after the surgery or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Most men are able to return to work 1 week after surgery. This depends on the type of work you do and how you feel. It may take longer.
  • You may shower unless your doctor tells you not to. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Do not take a bath for about 5 days.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Incision care

  • A small amount of thin, clear, pinkish fluid may drain from the incision. This will last for about 12 hours after the surgery.
  • Gently wash the incision with warm, soapy water and pat it dry, unless your doctor gives you other instructions.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.

Ice

  • To help with pain, put ice or a cold pack against your scrotum for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, every 4 to 6 hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

How well does a vasectomy reversal work?

Chances of a successful vasectomy reversal decline over time. Reversals work best during the first 10 years after a vasectomy.

In general, vasectomy reversal:

  • Leads to overall pregnancy rates of greater than 50%.
  • Has the greatest chance of success within 3 years of the vasectomy.
  • Leads to pregnancy only about 30% of the time if the reversal is done 10 years after the vasectomy.

How do you prepare for a vasectomy reversal?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What are the risks of a vasectomy reversal?

Risks of vasectomy reversal include:

  • Infection at the site of surgery.
  • Fluid buildup in the scrotum (hydrocele) that may require draining.
  • Injury to the arteries or nerves in the scrotum.

After vasectomy reversal: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • Your have loose stitches or your incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood soaks through the bandage.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You cannot urinate.
  • You have symptoms of a urinary tract infection. These may include:
    • Pain or burning when you urinate.
    • A frequent need to urinate without being able to pass much urine.
    • Pain in the flank, which is just below the rib cage and above the waist on either side of the back.
    • Blood in your urine.
    • A fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in your leg.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

What can you expect as you recover from a vasectomy reversal?

You can expect to go home the same day.

Pain may be mild to moderate. You should be able to resume normal activities, including sex, within 3 weeks.

After a vasectomy reversal: Overview

Vasectomy reversal is a surgery to reverse a vasectomy. Your doctor reconnected the tubes that were cut during a vasectomy.

After surgery, you may have some pain in your groin for 1 to 3 weeks. Your scrotum and groin may be bruised and swollen. This will go away in 1 to 2 weeks.

You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in 1 week. How long it takes depends on your job. If your job involves physical labor or lifting, it may take 2 weeks or more before you can go back to work.

You may need to wear snug underwear or compression shorts for 1 week, or as your doctor instructs you.

A reversal is most likely to work if it's done in the first 3 years after a vasectomy. Sometimes a reversal doesn't work. The vas deferens is a very narrow tube. It may become permanently blocked.

Why is a vasectomy reversal done?

Vasectomy reversal is done when you have had a vasectomy and now want to be fertile.

What happens on the day of your vasectomy reversal?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, surgery may be canceled. If your doctor has told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, colognes, or deodorants.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, don't shave your scrotum before you come in for surgery.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery takes about 2 to 4 hours.

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