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A vasectomy is a surgical form of male sterilization that is intended to permanently prevent a man from getting a woman pregnant. The vasectomy is typically an outpatient procedure where the doctor cuts the tubes known as the vas deferens that carry sperm to the penis 3. In rare instances the vas deferens can heal itself in a way in which the tubes reconnect and allow sperm to be released during ejaculation. This complication is known as recanalization. There are a couple of ways to know that this may have happened.
The most obvious sign that recanalization has happened following a vasectomy is the unexpected pregnancy of the female partner 1. Since semen is still present during ejaculation, it may be difficult to know for sure if the vas deferens has reconnected. If sex occurs without an additional form of contraception, recanalization is likely to lead to pregnancy in the same way it would if there had never been a vasectomy.
According to HealthCentral.com, pregnancy after a vasectomy is very rare, occurring in about one in 1,000 cases. A technical error by the doctor may be the cause of an unexpected pregnancy, but it is most likely to be a case of recanalization.
- The most obvious sign that recanalization has happened following a vasectomy is the unexpected pregnancy of the female partner 1.
- If sex occurs without an additional form of contraception, recanalization is likely to lead to pregnancy in the same way it would if there had never been a vasectomy.
Positive Semen Analysis
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Men who have a vasectomy should wait at least three months and experience a minimum of 20 ejaculation using alternative forms of contraception before returning to the doctor for a post vasectomy semen analysis, according to PlannedParenthood.org 3.
A semen analysis will allow doctors to see if there is sperm present in the semen. The absence of sperm indicates a successful procedure and the presence of sperm in the sample is a sign that recanalization may have occurred.
Reason For Popularity
Vasectomy procedures are a popular option for couples looking for birth control. There are several reasons why the procedure is so common.
Male sterilization is a much less invasive procedure than tubal ligation for women, making the outpatient procedure the preferred method for many couples. The procedure is simple and safe and has very low complication rates.
As opposed to birth control pills, IUD or other temporary contraceptive methods, the vasectomy provides a permanent solution to birth control. A vasectomy is also considered the most effective form of birth control with only 15 in 10,000 couples getting pregnant within the first year following the procedure, according to FamilyDoctor.org.
- Vasectomy procedures are a popular option for couples looking for birth control.
- Male sterilization is a much less invasive procedure than tubal ligation for women, making the outpatient procedure the preferred method for many couples.
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- Health Central: Vasectomy and Vasovasostomy - Unexpected Pregnancy
- Planned Parenthood: Vasectomy
- Family Doctor: Vasectomy - What to Expect
- Urology Care Foundation. (2019). What is a Vasectomy?
- Batz D, Greenberg JA. Sterilization in the United States. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Winter; 1(1): 23–32.
- Cook LA, Pun A, Gallo MF, Lopez ML, Van Vliet HAAM. Scalpel Versus No-Scalpel Incision for Vasectomy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Mar 30;2014(3):CD004112. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004112.pub4
- Viera AJ. (2019). Vasectomy. O'Leary MP, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate.
- American Urological Association. (2015) Vasectomy Guideline.
- Benn P, Lupton M. Sterilisation of young, competent, and childless adults. BMJ. 2005 Jun 4; 330(7503): 1323–1325. doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7503.1323
- Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Vasectomy (Male Sterilization): Procedure Details
- John Hopkins Medicine. Vasectomy.
- Viera AJ. (2019). Patient education: Vasectomy (Beyond the Basics). Richie JP, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Updated April 2020). Reproductive health: Contraception.
- Adams CE, Wald M. Risks and Complications of Vasectomy. Urol Clin North Am. 2009 Aug;36(3):331-6. doi:10.1016/j.ucl.2009.05.009
- Sinha V, Ramasamy R. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome: diagnosis, management and treatment options. Transl Androl Urol. 2017 May; 6(Suppl 1): S44–S47. doi:10.21037/tau.2017.05.33
- Patel AP, Smith RP. Vasectomy Reversal: A Clinical Update. Asian J Androl. May-Jun 2016;18(3):365-71. doi:10.4103/1008-682X.175091
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.