Reconnecting . . .

Reversing a vasectomy is one way for men who are sterile by choice to have a child.   However, there may be more effective methods to ensure success.  

Like getting married, a vasectomy is relatively inexpensive.  But, just like getting a divorce, a vasectomy reversal is costly, more costly by about fifteen or twenty times than the original vasectomy.  And not all attempts to reverse a vasectomy offer good results. 

A vasectomy is almost always 100% effective; reversing a vasectomy results in only about an 83% - 87% success rate.  There is one primary reason for this.  After a man has a vasectomy, his body still produces The WeddingCredit: public domainsperm cells.  These sperm cells, with no outlet, trigger a response within the man’s body; the sperm cells are destroyed and absorbed, being treated by the body much like a foreign object.  The longer the vasectomy has been in place the stronger this immuno-reaction is.  The longer the sperm cells generate under these conditions the less chance future cells have of being viable.  Simply reconnecting the vas deferens (surgically cut in a vasectomy) cannot guarantee a pregnancy.  It is not about proper reconnecting; it is how long the vasectomy was in place, and how well the microsurgery to reconnect the vas deferens is done.  Reversing a vasectomy requires more operating time, has a longer recovery period, can cost about $20,000, and is not guaranteed to work. 

For those who aren’t genetically prejudiced (by insisting their own genetic material be used to conceive “their” baby) a very cost-effective alternative to reversing a vasectomy is artificial insemination.  After consulting a fertility specialist (to ensure the woman is fertile) a couple can choose from among thousands of anonymous sperm donors to select one (based on simple criteria such as hair and eye color, etc.).  Once a donor’s sperm is chosen the woman is inseminated in an out-patient office visit.  Fertility drugs may be required to stimulate ovum production.  But, if the sperm meets the egg, a baby is conceived.  If not successful, the couple may continue to try with another sample from the same donor or from a different donor.  Artificial insemination offers a lot of control for potential parents – there is some determining of the baby’s physical makeup through the sperm donor selection process, and conception is definitely something that can be scheduled.

The donor sperm samples themselves are fairly inexpensive ($150-$200 per sample).  One can consult with a traditional sperm bank.  Or sperm can be purchased on-line.  On-line indices are available (for an extra fee, although no more personal details are given, some sperm donor’s infant photos are available to further aid in matching the donor to a parent’s appearance).  The frozen sperm ships directly to the medical care provider performing the insemination where it is stored until needed. The insemination procedure itself is only a few hundred dollars per treatment. 

A surrogate program, wherein a woman (not the potential father’s mate) is inseminated with the father’s sperm, could be used.  This surrogate then carries the baby to term; after birth it is handed over to the father and his partner.  This can work well, but is actually more costly than a “natural” full-term pregnancy.  This is simply because most surrogate contracts ask for service fees for the fetus’ carrier, and her pre-natal and post-natal medical expenses are generally borne by the father and his infertile partner.  This method is not for those with limited budgets.  Another downside, and it has happened many times, is the surrogate may give birth to the baby then decide to legally fight to keep it.

Finally, there are more extreme medical methods.  A “test tube” baby (removing an ovum from a woman, fertilizing it in a lab, and then implanting it back in the womb) is almost cost prohibitive for the ordinary person.  Similarly, “harvesting” sperm from a recently deceased male (for insemination into his wife or significant other) is costly and not guaranteed (sperm are only viable for a short period after death). 

People may yearn to have a child, but they need not be foolhardy or needlessly spend thrifty.  Consulting a family physician as a starting point is always the best idea.  Doing the research before deciding is the second step.  Finally, don’t be discouraged if a baby isn’t forthcoming via medical means.  Another alternative to reversing a vasectomy is adoption!


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