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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Conceiving After a Vasectomy – Vasectomy Reversal Alternatives

Vasectomy is a form of male contraception by which the male reproductive tract is severed, tied or sealed so that sperms cannot enter the ejaculate. Although for long, vasectomy was considered to be a permanent way of disabling a man from impregnating a woman, advancements in microsurgery over the last century has led to the development of the vasectomy reversal procedure. This process restores the reproductive tract of the male to its state prior to vasectomy, and makes conception possible for his partner. For those who do not want to resort to vasectomy reversal, there are other options.

What is Vasectomy?
Sperms are produced in the testicles of a man. From here they are carried to the epididymis through the efferent tubules. It is in the epididymis where the sperms mature. Then they reach the urethra through the vas deferens before being ejected with the ejaculate. It is the vas deferens that are severed and closed during vasectomy. Vasectomy blocks the passage of sperms from testicles to the ejaculate. However, it does not diminish the production of sperms in the testicles. It is due to this reason that conceiving after vasectomy is still possible.

Conceiving After a Vasectomy

Vasectomy Reversal Procedure
This is a surgical procedure in which the vas deferens that were severed through vasectomy are reconnected. This is not a very complicated procedure. It lasts only for 3 to 5 hours. However, it requires a skilled surgeon to locate the vas deferens and rejoin them. Although it sounds simple, conceiving after vasectomy reversal procedure isn’t always possible. This happens because a blockage often gets created in the epididymis due to the back pressure from vasectomy. This second obstruction becomes more prevalent with time. Hence, for a successful vasectomy reversal procedure a surgeon has to remove this obstruction in addition to attaching the severed vas deferens.

The Need for Vasectomy Reversal Alternatives
On an average the vasectomy reversal cost per delivery per couple could range anywhere around $15,000. Despite the high cost involved, impregnation does not take place immediately. Moreover, the chances of conceiving after vasectomy reversal is around 60% only. The drawbacks along with the surgical process involved has made many couples look at alternatives to vasectomy reversal.

Vasectomy Reversal Alternatives

Sperm Aspiration: If a couple is interested in conceiving after vasectomy but does not want to go through vasectomy reversal, they can choose to have sperm aspiration done. In this procedure, the doctor retrieves sperms from the epididymis or the testes. In case sperms are removed from the epididymis, it is done by inserting a needle through the skin into the tubule (epididymis). Sperms from the testes are obtained by removing some tissue from it using a biopsy needle. This tissue contains sperms. These sperms can then be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection to fertilize an egg.

Sperm Banking: Men who are going in for vasectomy could consider storing their sperms in sperm banks for later use. This option is already given to them when they are opting for vasectomy. In this case, some sperms are removed from the testes or vas deferens and stored at low cost in special facilities in the sperm banks. These sperms can later be used to have babies through IVF.

Therapeutic Donor Insemination: This option is for those men who are open to the idea of having a baby without using one’s own sperms. In this case, a couple needs to choose a sperm donor. Once this is done, the woman is artificially inseminated by putting the donor sperm into her cervix or uterus during ovulation. In 5 to 25% of the cases, the donor sperm fertilizes the egg.

There is no better method than the natural way of conceiving. On an average only 25% to 30% couples conceive using one of these methods. Also a number of trials are required as a woman might not be able to conceive at the first chance itself. All this makes these methods expensive and time-consuming. Still, these are the only biological options of having babies for couples in which the man has undergone a vasectomy.

Vasectomy should not hinder a couple from expanding their family. From surgically reversing the vasectomy to considering vasectomy reversal alternatives, there are a number of ways of conceiving even after vasectomy.

By Debopriya Bose

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