At the practice of world-renowned urologist and microsurgeon Larry Lipshultz, vasectomy reversal candidates are carefully screened and fully educated about the procedure during their initial consultations. The benefits of vasectomy reversal are fairly self-evident; the chances of starting or expanding a patient’s family are generally good to excellent after the procedure. However, Dr. Lipshultz makes sure that patients are well aware of any risks associated with vasectomy reversal, as well. It is important that men who are considering vasectomy reversal have realistic expectations at the outset.
Among the possible risks discussed during consultations at Dr. Lipshultz’s office serving Austin are vasectomy reversal birth defects. Most men are pleased to learn that there is no definitive evidence to suggest that the rate of birth defects after vasectomy reversal is significantly higher than the rate of birth defects among the general population. In fact, the rate of birth defects may actually be higher among those who achieve pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). However, there are also studies suggesting that men who undergo vasectomy may have a higher rate of abnormalities in their sperm. These studies have not progressed to the point that a link between vasectomy reversals and birth defects has been convincingly demonstrated.
Nevertheless, it is only through having a complete education about the procedure that men can make confident, informed decisions regarding their treatment.
Vasectomy Reversal versus IVF-ICSI
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, roughly 3 percent of all children born in the United States are born with major birth defects. This number rises to approximately 6 to 7 percent when accounting for developmental abnormalities related to birth by the age of one.
The rate of birth defects among couples who conceived after the male underwent vasectomy reversal is slightly higher at 5 percent. On the other hand, research conducted at the Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine by Dr. Lipshultz and his colleagues Edward Karpman and Daniel H. Williams, suggests that there is a greater risk of birth defects in both conventional IVF (9 percent) and IVF-ICSI (8.6 percent) compared to their control group (4.2 percent).
2006 Study at Chulalongkorn University
In 2006, a study conducted at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok raised some eyebrows, as the study’s authors reported that chromosomal abnormalities were more common in the sperm of men who had undergone vasectomy than the sperm of men with healthy fertility. However, the authors acknowledged that they were unsure whether these findings would support the theory that the risk of birth defects was higher after vasectomy reversal. To date, there have been no follow-up studies to suggest that such a link exists.
Ultimately, when performed by a skilled microsurgeon such as Dr. Lipshultz, vasectomy reversal represents the best chance for couples to achieve a successful, healthy pregnancy after vasectomy with relatively few risks.
Learn More about Vasectomy Reversal
To learn more about vasectomy reversal and the benefits and risks associated with the procedure, please contact Dr. Lipshultz today.