For many men, a vasectomy is a way to permanently prevent any unwanted births, either within a relationship or with any future partners. For roughly five percent of these men, however, the decision to remain sterile is not final. Unexpected life events or desires can lead patients to reconsider their decision, leading to the pursuit of a vasectomy reversal procedure.
While most success rates for treatment are promising, every patient is different. Before deciding to undergo a vasectomy reversal, it’s best to understand the various factors that may influence its outcome. See whether a patient’s age can negatively impact the procedure’s results, as explained by Houston urologist Larry Lipshultz.
Vasectomy Reversal Success Rates and Age
Fortunately, a man’s age does not inherently play a role in the success of a vasectomy reversal. Whether a patient is 25 or 55, he should be able to undergo reversal surgery so long as all other factors make him a good candidate. Other than the general effects that age may have upon one’s ability to recover from surgery, almost all men who have had a vasectomy should be able to have a reversal at any point in the future.
On the other hand, men should be mindful of their partner’s age and the point at which a woman’s fertility tends to decline. By the time a woman is in her mid-30s, her fertility already starts to become impaired, with significant obstacles occurring into her 40s. While the vasectomy reversal itself may not be affected by a man’s age, its efficacy may be offset by the increasing age of his partner.
Does Time Play Any Factor?
A man’s age may not play a strong factor in the success of a vasectomy reversal, but the overall passage of time can indeed impact treatment. As time goes by after an initial vasectomy, pressure may build between the vas deferens - which is blocked off by the vasectomy - and the epididymis. In most cases, this pressure does not lead to complications. However, when performing a vasectomy reversal, it may require the surgeon to use a more complicated and less reliable technique. The two surgical techniques that may be utilized are as follows:
- Vasovasostomy: This is the more common vasectomy technique, which can be performed if the urologist sees sperm present in the vassal fluid. Surgery is straightforward and involves the reconnection of the previously severed vas deferens. This procedure can usually be performed within 10 years of the vasectomy, and has a success rate of over 90 percent.
- Vasoepididymostomy: When sperm is absent from the vassal fluid due to secondary blockage, a more complex procedure is needed to reconnect the vas deferens. The blockage must be located and alleviated from the epididymis, requiring great skill from the urologist. Men who have had a vasectomy more than 10 years ago face a 40 percent chance of needing a vasoepididymostomy during reversal, which has about a 70 percent rate of success among all U.S. patients.
Considerations for Older Patients
When considering any surgery, patients and their doctors must account for any health issues that may increase the risk of post-surgical complications. Risk factors often include systemic disease, bleeding complications, a compromised immune system, or prolonged healing. These conditions may not be caused or aggravated by age, but older patients do tend to present greater health risks. Prior to undergoing a vasectomy reversal, speak with your doctor about your medical history to gain insight regarding your own chances of a healthy, successful procedure.
Schedule a Consultation
Any successful procedure begins with an in depth conversation with your doctor. Meet with Dr. Lipshultz to discuss your concerns and goals for treatment, whether you are looking for a reversal or any other of our offered services. Contact our urology office to schedule your initial consultation.