Frequently Asked Questions
Questions About Family Planning
There are several choices available for contraception. You should choose the method that best suits your needs. You may also want to discuss with his partner, and your doctor can also help you choose the best option for you.
Temporary and reversible methods of birth control include condoms, spermicides, a diaphragm, an IUD, the pill, the patch, and the Depo shot. Permanent methods include female sterilization by tubal ligation and male sterilization by vasectomy. These procedures cannot be performed in a way that makes them easier to reverse. This means only those who have decided not to have any, or anymore, children should choose permanent sterilization.
Sperm banking — freezing sperm for later use — is available through regional fertility laboratories. While it offers the possibility of future pregnancy, the process of storing and retrieving your sperm (and the assisted fertility procedures of artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization) can be complicated and costly, with no guaranteed results.
Vasectomy is a safe, simple, and minimally invasive procedure that is more than 99% effective. If you are deciding whether to get a vasectomy, it may be helpful to answer these questions: can you imagine a situation in which you would regret not having biological children? Would you consider adoption? You should also consider the risks and consequences of having an unintended pregnancy while using a reversible method of contraception.
A small percentage of men with vasectomy have undergone surgery to attempt to restore their fertility. The procedure, called a vasovasostomy, can be performed by an experienced microsurgery specialist using a microscope in the operating room. Often general anesthetic is necessary to prevent motion during the surgery, which lasts 1.5 to 3 hours.
Within a few weeks or months, about 50% to 70% of men will achieve sperm counts high enough to expect a pregnancy, while as many as 50% will not achieve pregnancy. For intervals greater than 10 years since vasectomy, success rates are about 30%. Of course, the age and fertility of the female partner also affects success. If pregnancy occurs, there is no special concern about abnormalities related to the sperm produced after vasectomy.
For those who fail after the vasovasostomy, it may still be possible to retrieve sperm from the semen or by extraction from the testicles. The doctor can then microscopically implant a sperm into an egg in vitro. If an embryo forms, it is then transplanted into the woman’s uterus. This highly specialized form of in vitro fertilization is called intracytoplasmic sperm implantation, or ICSI, and requires specialized laboratory facilities. It is generally more expensive and less successful than vasectomy reversal.
Frequently Asked Questions
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