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Vasectomy reversal: What you need to know

That vasectomy that seemed like a good idea a few years ago, but what if you want more babies now? Vasectomy reversal isn’t as easy as changing your mind. Here’s what you need to know.

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Couple in bed gazing at each other

Photo: iStockphoto

The vasectomy is an easy half-hour snip. Reconnecting those tubes with a vasectomy reversal isn’t such a breeze.

Vasectomy reversal is an invasive, two- to three-hour procedure that may require general anesthetic. And since it’s not covered under provincial health plans, the cost can run around $5,000. The success rate is good (studies suggest 50 to 70 percent of men are able to have kids post-reversal), but doctors note that vasectomy reversal effectiveness drops depending on how long it’s been since the vasectomy.

Because of this, couples are often encouraged to look into alternatives if they want a baby, which is what happened with Ken*, who had a vasectomy in his 30s when he and his then-wife were adamant about not having kids. Now in his 40s and remarried, he and his wife want to try for a baby. Since their chances of conceiving are already relatively low because of their ages, plus the number of years since Ken’s vasectomy, his doctor recommended they undergo sperm retrieval and in vitro fertilization. That means regular encounters between Ken’s boys and a needle to retrieve his swimmers.

“There’s so much that makes it worth going through the whole exercise,” he says, “But it would be disingenuous to say it isn’t a hassle.”

Despite all this, Ken says he doesn’t want his story to be a cautionary tale. He believes his choice to have a vasectomy was the right one in his life at the time.

“I don’t regret it,” he says. “But the decision to have or not have kids may not just be yours—it happens within a relationship.”

*Name has been changed

A version of this article appeared in our November 2016 issue, titled “Making the cut,” pg. 27-33.

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Getting a vasectomy: Actually not that big a deal
Getting a vasectomy: Your top FAQs answered
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