On the eve of World Vasectomy Day, October 18, men, take note: if you are having a vasectomy, an Adelaide fertility specialist is keen to let you know the procedure does not always mean a cut-and-dry end to fertility.
Dr Marcin Stankiewicz, fertility specialist with City Fertility Centre, said there were a couple of options for men if they changed their mind and wanted to have children again in the future.
“The three options are to freeze your sperm prior to the vasectomy, have a vasectomy reversal, or a sperm retrieval technique that surgically extracts the sperm from the testis,” Dr Stankiewicz said.
He said research had shown that success rates of using frozen sperm to create a viable pregnancy were good, but not many men would think about this in advance. This left them with vasectomy reversals, which were potentially difficult and not always effective, especially if done a long time after the original procedure, or surgical sperm retrieval in conjunction with IVF.
“Sperm retrieval is a straightforward process done under local anesthetic and is usually successful,” Dr Stankiewicz said.
After a vasectomy, Dr Stankiewicz said, sperm were still produced by the testicles but were broken down and absorbed by the body instead of exiting via the penis. The sperm could, however, be extracted before breaking down, via an aspiration technique whereby the doctor inserts a needle attached to a syringe into the epididymis or testis, then gently aspirates fluid that contains the sperm.
According to Dr Stankiewicz, nearly 15 per cent of his patients require sperm retrieval, whether due to having had a vasectomy or other reasons.
He said the reality was there was an increasing number of men and women in second unions.
“At the time of having a vasectomy, you can’t predict what will happen in the future to your current relationship,” he said.
“Sperm retrieval techniques in conjunction with IVF give a man and woman a good chance of having a biological child together post-vasectomy.”