Saturday, January 14, 2006

(Vasectomy and) Vasectomy Reversal Information

I'm surprised that I haven't really posted about it before but I guess since my partner's reversal was so long ago (1998) that I haven't really gone into it in much detail over the past three years. I'll try to remedy that so that others can learn from what I've learned.

My partner thought that he was going to help out the overpopulation problem and in a fit of idealism and with encouragement from his wife at the time, underwent a vasectomy. That was several years before we met, and as it would happen, on the cusp of the end of his marriage. I can't really speak too much as to how his post-op recovery was though I know that he went in for the procedure alone and was hurt that she didn't even come to see him home afterwards. (Lesson #1 -- it is an emotional thing and the female partner should be there to provide support).

I've had a few sexual partners in my past and so I was a little familiar with what ejaculate looks like. What was weird about my partner's prior to his reversal was that it was thicker than the intact guys I engaged with. I guess this is due to the ejaculate just containing the portions from the prostate and seminal vesicals. After his reversal it returned to a normal looking consistency.

The final product of semen that you see when you come contains only 5% sperm; the other 95% is made-up of secretions from the seminal vesicles (considered an extension of the prostate) and prostate fluid (about 80% of the final mix), which gives ejaculate its whitish color.
From Premature Ejaculation

From when we first started dating he told me he intended to have a reversal, he had already worked through his regrets about having the procedure and so we knew it was on the horizon. From what we learned online at the time, having a reversal within 4-5 years of the initial vasectomy supposedly would help to ensure a greater likelihood of success.

The first step was to locate a doctor who specialized in vas reversals as we wanted this done right the first time. I searched online and at the time, Columbia University had and still has some great vasectomy reversal info and doctors who looked pretty good but through a friend's father who is a urologist in Washington, we learned about Dr. Dale McClure , a urologist specializing in fertility at Virginia Mason Hospital. My partner, since we were still just dating at the time, went for his appointments without me. I remember feeling embarrassed when he came back and told me that Dr. McClure asked about the fertility of his partner (me) and he provided some answer about my having regular cycles -- ack! things were going really fast for me and we'd only been together for a couple years.

The surgery was scheduled to be done through a facility at Group Health Hospital on Capitol Hill; there was some reason it was done there which if I recall correctly might have had to do with both insurance and the technology available. I insisted on being at the hospital the day of the operation, knowing how hurt he had been by the lack of support when he had his vas.

On the Internet prior, we had learned that the medical term for a vasectomy reversal is vasovasostomy and that there was a microsurgical technique used to sew the tiny vas deferens back together again using a fancy sewing technique under intense magnification -- this techique was supposed to have a higher success rates than older techniques.

Prior to the procedure my partner was sedated in a pre-op are and I was able to spend time with him and massaged his feet and kept him relaxed and calm (it was from this experience that he learned how to take care of me surrounding my first d&c and then my fibroid surgery which was really nice for me). The nurses told him that he better be really nice to me and that I was a "keeper". When he was good and loopy on the meds I stepped out into the waiting room and he went into the operatory. I told him that I would be there the entire time he was being operated on so he should know that he wasn't alone ever.

[Graphic detail]
From what he's told me, in the operatory he was awake but sedated during the operation. There was a camera pointed at his testes throughout the procedure, with a screen within his view which was fairly intense for him to watch. The doctor made two incisions into the front of he scrotum and lifted out his testicles to have access to the surgical site (in contrast, vasectomies are done through very small incisions through the back of the scrotum). When it would get too intense for my partner he would tell the nurse to dose him more. It took about two hours to do the operation and then he was moved out into post-op where I was able to come in and see him and rub his feet some more.
[end graphic detail]

We left the hospital that afternoon and went home to rest. He was instructed to not ejaculate/have sexual intercourse for four weeks after the operation to help with healing. Since then I've heard of other doctors wanting to have men begin ejaculating sooner (10 days post-op) to help keep the vas open. I don't know if there is a standard, I assume it is still going to be based on your doctor's own experience and preference. While he was healing the most noticible thing was that his scrotum was HUGE. His balls were swollen to the size of large oranges at least and it took weeks for the swelling to go down.

I believe he was meant to have a semen analysis within a few months of the procedure but we weren't ready to start a family yet and the doctor said that he had found sperm during the procedure from the testical side of the vas. I think it was fear of it not working more than anything that made my partner delay his semen analysis. Finally over a year later he went in and had it done and the results were pretty poor by WHO standards. He was instructed to come back for another test in a few months if I recall correctly. He asked the doctor at the time about some ongoing pain that he had in his scrotum/testes and the doctor thought it might just be part of the healing process. We felt a bit discouraged but only time would tell.

Specific things we learned along the way from our experience:

There might be pain for a while

Sperm counts might be low for a while and continue to improve over time without intervention (we saw significant improvement after 2 years)

Ejaculate consistency will change after the reversal, to a more normal consistency

You should be sure to have a semen analysis based on Kruger morphology standards and not just WHO standards, and also make sure you are tested for anti-sperm antibodies as well

MFI supplement cocktails can actually improve morphology

The our doctor felt that our chances of conception would be better with a repeat reversal (though it wasn't required ultimately because things improved on their own) than with trying TESE/IVF

General post vas reversal fertility info:

There is a greater chance of having ROS damage to the sperm

That the success rates post procedure have more to do with the health and age of the female partner than just on the time between vasectomy and reversal

That there is about a 50% chance of conceiving on your own post reversal

Vasectomy and Vasectomy Reversal Links:


Society for Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU) - Member Search


The Patient's Guide to Vasectomy Reversal

Microscopic Vasovasostomy

Vasectomy Reversal - Introduction

Microsurgical Vasectomy Reversal

What's New in Male Infertility Treatment at Cornell
Vasectomy Reversal: The Microdot Method for Precision Suture Placement

Google Groups:

International Center for Vasectomy Reversal

Vasectomy Reversal - Johns Hopkins

Building Bridges to Conception - Vasectomy Reversal

Vasectomy Reversal Questions &s; Answers

Microscopic Vasectomy Reversal


The Infertility Center - FAQs - vas reveral Qs and As link

Cary Urology Vasectomy Reversal


Warning over vasectomy reversals

Vasectomy - Can it be reversed?

Morphological changes of spermatozoa in proximal vas deferens after vasectomy

Microsurgical Vasovasostomy versus Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration/Testicular Extraction of Sperm Combined with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Some vasovasostomized men are characterized by low levels of P34H, an epididymal sperm protein.

Vasectomy Myth Debunked: NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Study Finds Vasectomy Reversal Highly Effective, Even After 15 Years

Vasectomy Reversal & Sperm Antibodies


Vasectomy Blog

Vasectomy Information

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