A vasectomy success rate is, in its simplest sense, a number that represents how successful vasectomies are at preventing pregnancy when all procedures are tallied for a given time span, location, or specific demographic. Reproductive health clinics may advertise their own reported success rates, for instance, often as a means of attracting customers or patients, and different awareness organizations may also publish rates based on research, records, and filings. Government health entities are frequently also involved in monitoring the relative success of vasectomies and other contraceptive methods, and findings are often used to shape laws and other regulations related to human reproduction. Under ideal circumstances, a vasectomy should completely prevent pregnancy, which would give it a success rate of 100%. In reality the figure is usually closer to 98% or 99%, which accounts for some errors during the procedure itself as well as rogue sperm that find their way through the reproductive tract in spite of the severance. It usually takes a few weeks before the procedure’s effects really kick in, too, which can impact the rate. Men considering a vasectomy are usually advised to understand not only the mechanics of the procedure, but also the risks. Sometimes it can be revered, but not always — and not always with great success.
Relationship of Success to Sperm Count
In terms of preventing pregnancy, a vasectomy success rate usually hovers around 99%. However, it is important to remember that a man is not instantly sterile after undergoing a vasectomy. The majority of pregnancies caused by men who have undergone vasectomies happen during the first few weeks following the procedure, when a man still has sperm in his semen. Men sometimes need to produce as many as 20 ejaculations before the semen no longer contains sperm. The vasectomy success rate is most effective after a man has a sperm count of zero.
Before a vasectomy becomes effective, a man may want to use a form of birth control with his partner. After several weeks, a man can have his semen tested. When the test results show that there is no sperm in the semen, it is safe for a man to have intercourse with his partner without using any form of contraception.
In some rare cases, a phenomenon called recanalization can occur. During a vasectomy, a urologist severs and then seals a man's vas deferentia in order to prevent sperm from entering his ejaculate, or seminal stream. The vas deferentia are the tubes that carry the sperm from the testicles to the seminal stream. Recanalization is a rare occurrence where the tubes rejoin or become unobstructed on their own. After a vasectomy, the testicles still make sperm, so if recanalization occurs, sperm will re-enter the seminal stream and pregnancy may occur.
A man must weigh his options carefully before having a vasectomy. Perhaps most importantly, a man must be sure he does not want any, or any more, children. In most cases, the procedure does not affect a man’s sexual desire or prevent an erection.
For the majority of couples, a vasectomy is more cost effective and less complicated than a woman undergoing a tubal sterilization procedure, which is the alternative permanent birth control option for women and involves tying or clipping the fallopian tubes to prevent the dropping of an egg. In addition, the vasectomy success rate is higher than that of the tubal ligation. A vasectomy fails about once out of every 2,000 cases, but according to most reports tubal ligations fail once out of every 200 to 300 cases.
If a man changes his mind after the vasectomy is performed, he may opt to undergo what’s known as a “reverse vasectomy.” A man may be able to father a child after a reverse vasectomy, but the procedure is not always completely effective. Reversals are usually also very costly, and success depends on how long ago the vasectomy was originally performed and whether antibodies to sperm have been formed.