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Vasectomy Reversal

Side view of male reproductive anatomy showing pathway of sperm.

Each of your testicles makes sperm (male reproductive cells). Sperm travel from the testicles to the penis through one of 2 tubes called the vas deferens. On the way, sperm mix with other fluids to form semen, which leaves the body during ejaculation. During a vasectomy, each vas deferens is cut. This prevents sperm from leaving the body. This makes you sterile (unable to make a woman pregnant). A vasectomy can sometimes be reversed, restoring the flow of sperm out of the body.

How the procedure works

During a vasectomy reversal, the 2 cut ends of each vas deferens are stitched back together. With the sperm pathways restored, sperm can once again travel through the vas deferens and leave the body during ejaculation. You may then be able to father a child.

Getting ready for the procedure

You will be given instructions to get ready for the vasectomy reversal. Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you take. This includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines (including aspirin), vitamins, herbs, and other supplements. You may be asked to stop taking some or all of these. On the day of your procedure, bring clean cotton briefs or an athletic support with you.

During the procedure

You’ll be given medicine to keep you pain-free. You may be awake and relaxed during the procedure. Or you may be completely asleep. Once the medicine takes effect:

  • A cut (incision) is made in your scrotum.

  • The cut ends of each vas deferens are lifted out and examined. A part of each cut end may be removed.

  • The end closer to the testicles is cut until fluid flows freely. This fluid may be looked at under a microscope to see if sperm are present.

  • The 2 cut ends are stitched together. If needed, the vas may be attached directly to the epididymis (tissue behind the testicle).

  • When both of the vas deferens are reconnected, the incisions in the scrotum are stitched closed.

After the procedure

You may need to stay in the hospital for several hours. When it’s time to go home, have an adult family member or friend drive you. Once you’re home:

  • Take medicine as directed to relieve any pain.

  • To reduce the chance of swelling, stay off your feet as much as you can for the first day.

  • Place an ice pack (wrapped in a thin towel) on your scrotum for short amounts of time. This helps reduce swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack right on the skin.

  • Wear an athletic support or snug cotton briefs for extra support.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for showering and bathing.

  • Ask your provider when it’s OK to have sex.

  • Don't do any heavy lifting or exercise for at least 2 weeks. Ask your provider when you can return to work.

Risks and possible complications

  • Risks linked to anesthesia

  • Infection (symptoms include fever, chills, drainage from the incision site, and pain)

  • Internal bleeding of the scrotum (symptoms include increasing pain, excessive swelling, a large black-and-blue area, or a growing lump)

  • The procedure fails to restore fertility

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.