New research just out, led by Dr. Paul Turek, a San Francisco-based specialist in male fertility and sexual health, shows that even very old vasectomies -- as old as those done 38 years ago -- can be reversed with good results, he says. “For decades, conventional wisdom has been that the older the vasectomy, the less likely that ejaculated sperm returns after microsurgical vasectomy reversal. But this may not be true,” said Turek in a press release about the new research, which was presented this week at the American Urological Association in Atlanta.
Turek and his colleagues studied 343 men who'd had vasectomy reversals, comparing those with "younger" vasectomies (those from one to 15 years old) and "older" vasectomies (those 16 to 38 years old) to see if there was a difference in the amount of the sperm in the ejaculate following the reversal. Says Turek, the research found that "older vasectomies up to 38 years did not have worse outcomes after reversal surgery." That should be reassuring, he says, adding, "don't be shy about looking into vasectomy reversal for a vasectomy older than 15 years; it can often be reversed quite well." Turek notes that a limitation of his research was that it did not examine pregnancy rates, but only ejaculated sperm counts in men who'd had their vasectomies reversed.
If your husband has had a vasectomy and you're considering a round of IVF, it may be worth talking to a specialist in reversals -- not least because of the very different costs of the two procedures: "In general, a vasectomy reversal is about one-third to one-half the price of one IVF cycle," notes Turek, adding that a reversal costs about $5,000 to $9,000, on average. About 5 to 7 percent of vasectomized men get a reversal procedure.
Turek adds that while "you can get great results reversing a vasectomy of any age in the right hands, the problem is that not everyone can do it well." To find the right specialist, read Turek's "Insider's Guide to Vasectomy Reversal."