The chance of a pregnancy after vasectomy is unlikely – but it can happen.
Vasectomies top the charts when it comes to effective methods of birth control.
They are generally safe, simple, and really good at doing the job they are intended for.
But, because nothing to do with the human body is without its exceptions, there’s more to the story.
There is a chance that you can get pregnant after having sex with a partner who has had a vasectomy.
And, whether you are TTC or trying not to, this information can be very important to your journey.
First things first: what exactly does a vasectomy entail – and how effective is it really?
Let’s take a look.
In this article 📝
- What is a vasectomy?
- How effective is a vasectomy?
- What is the chance of getting pregnant after vasectomy 10 years ago?
- Can a vasectomy fail?
- What causes a vasectomy to fail?
- Can you get pregnant 3 months after vasectomy?
- How can I get pregnant if my husband had a vasectomy?
- How do I know if my vasectomy failed?
- What are the chances of pregnancy after vasectomy reversal?
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a medical procedure that is highly effective at preventing pregnancies.
Also referred to as male sterilization, the operation is meant to be permanent.
About 500,000 men in the US get them every year.
So how does this procedure work?
It’s all about blocking the exit points (tubes) so that sperm can’t get out of the testicles.
If they can’t get out, they can’t go about the job of fertilizing the egg.
The way this is done is by cutting or sealing the tubes (called the vas deferens) that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis during ejaculation.
After a vasectomy, the testes still make sperm, but instead, they die and are absorbed by the body rather than released (sounds scary, but it’s perfectly normal).
And if you’re wondering if not ejaculating sperm means no ejaculating full stop, we can tell you someone who has had a vasectomy can still ejaculate – there just won’t be any sperm in the semen.
Semen is simply the fluid sperm is carried in, they are totally different things.
Yep, it’s still possible to have a satisfying, thriving sex life after a vasectomy (just in case that’s factoring into your decision).
There are two many types of vasectomies: the incision (or conventional) method and the no-scalpel method.
The major difference between them is how the vas deferens is accessed.
The risk of infection and complication are higher with the conventional method, as it is a more invasive procedure.
How effective is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is still one of the most effective forms of birth control for those who don’t want to get pregnant, but there’s no such thing as foolproof birth control (apart from menopause).
Generally speaking, vasectomies are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
So the chances of pregnancy after a vasectomy are less than 1%.
But there’s usually a reason for this ‒ more on that later.
What is the chance of getting pregnant after vasectomy 10 years ago?
Let’s see what the numbers have to say.
Here are the pregnancy after vasectomy stats:
About one to two women in every 1,000 get pregnant after having sex with a partner who has had a vasectomy.
This makes it the most reliable form of birth control out there after abstinence or menopause.
And while this means that vasectomies are highly effective, they are not completely pregnancy-proof.
There is still a small possibility that you can get pregnant after having sex with someone who has had a vasectomy.
The first thing to note is that it takes a bit of time for a vasectomy to take effect.
Within about the first three months after a vasectomy, there may still be sperm present in the semen, meaning that the chance of getting pregnant still exists.
The doctor will help you along on this journey by testing the sperm to see when you are in the safe zone.
So, for those first few months, it’s probably best to use other methods of birth control before you get the all-clear.
Another reason a vasectomy may fail to prevent pregnancy is that there was some sort of surgical error.
If the doctor missed the vas deferens, the surgery will not have done what it was designed to do.
This sort of error is very rare and will typically be spotted during surgery or post-op treatment.
What are the odds of getting pregnant with tubal ligation and vasectomy?
So what if you’ve covered all your bases?
What are the odds of getting pregnant after vasectomy and tubal litigation?
Well, according to this 2006 study, the rates of pregnancy after tubal litigation are between 0-2%.
And the chances of pregnancy after a vasectomy are less than 1% (or, according to this small study, around 1.1%).
So even after tubal litigation and a vasectomy, pregnancy is still possible.
But the chances are very minute.
Can a vasectomy fail?
Yes, they certainly can, like any medical procedure.
But again, it is very rare, with late failures only happening about 0.04 to 0.08% of the time, according to this study.
And, for the most part, if you ask our Peanut mamas about their ‘pregnant after vasectomy stories,’ they’ll likely tell you that there was a reason for their partner’s vasectomy failure:
- My husband had a laser vasectomy 12 months ago, and I’m two months pregnant. I thought laser worked straight away! - Louise
- We have somebody in our family that had a vasectomy 5 years ago, and they just became pregnant again. I think with their situation, the issue was that the husband never went back for the second visit/post-check-up, where they make sure everything was good to go. - Mary
- I’m a vasectomy baby! My dad had one, but him and my mom didn’t wait the one month. So here I am 🤣 - Candice
- Happened to my coworker. They were told that after a vasectomy, they need to go back and get their ejaculate checked to make sure it had “taken” correctly. My coworker’s husband did not go back to get it checked! And they had their 4th child 😂 - Betty
What causes a vasectomy to fail?
So why do vasectomies fail and result in pregnancy?
Well, there are three main reasons:
1. Natural vasectomy reversal
It sounds like something out of science fiction, but sometimes (very rarely), the vas deferens can reattach by themselves through scar tissue formation.
However, this is very unlikely to happen and can be caused by surgical error (more on that just below).
2. Surgical error
As with any surgical procedure, there’s always a chance it may not go to plan.
Or it has gone according to plan, but the surgeon made an error.
A surgical error can mean that the vasectomy simply doesn’t work (if the vas deferens weren’t cut) or that the vasectomy can heal itself (if the vas deferens weren’t cut properly).
3. Not following post-surgery guidance
It’s important not to have sex for a few months after a vasectomy or, if you do want to have sex within a few months, to use protection.
This is because, while the vas deferens have been cut, there’s still some sperm to “dry up”.
It’s not something that simply works as soon as the procedure is done.
Can you get pregnant 3 months after vasectomy?
Yes, it is possible to get pregnant after a vasectomy, even if 3 months have passed.
It may be that there’s still some sperm in their semen because it can take about 3 months for sperm to expire.
That’s why it’s key to use protection directly after a vasectomy for around 4 months (just in case) or until you get the all-clear from the doctor.
Or, if you want to see if you can have sex without protection, do a sperm test to see whether there’s any sperm in your partner’s semen (with their consent, of course!).
Can a vasectomy fail after 5 years?
In some very occasional instances, a vasectomy will fail over time because a super-determined vas deferens reconnects.
This can happen months or even years later.
So there are some people out there who have become pregnant 5 years after a vasectomy.
To understand how this happens, let’s have a quick recap on the vasectomy procedure.
The surgery doesn’t remove sperm but rather its pathway out of the testes.
If the vas deferens reconnects (through scar tissue formation), sperm may have their roadway opened up again and might just be eager to travel toward an awaiting egg.
So how might this happen?
The body responds to the vasectomy procedure by depositing tissue, called granuloma, at the new ends of the vas deferens.
Pressure from sperm fluid then creates little drainage channels in the granulated tissue, which can connect back to the severed vas deferens.
This process is called recanalization and, as is explored in this case study, may result in pregnancy a few years after a vasectomy.
So can you get pregnant after your husband had a vasectomy 10 years ago?
Or how about getting pregnant 20 years after vasectomy?
Well, recanalization is possible but not likely and is only expected to happen in about one in 4000 cases.
How can I get pregnant if my husband had a vasectomy?
And then, because life is just not always so cut and dried, you may find yourself in a situation where your desires and needs change.
If your partner has had a vasectomy and you want to get pregnant, there are ways.
A vasectomy reversal is possible and involves reattaching the vas deferens in one of two ways—sewing the tubes together (a vasovasostomy) or attaching the vas deferens to the epididymis, which produces the sperm in the testicles (a vasoepididymostomy).
A vasovasostomy is a simpler procedure but is not appropriate for every patient.
About three to six percent of vasectomy patients opt for a reversal somewhere along the line.
Changes in circumstances or new relationships are just some of the reasons reversals are conducted.
If the operation is successful, sperm will find their way back into the semen.
This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year.
And in terms of getting pregnant, the success rate is generally pretty good when it comes to vasectomy reversals—about on par with a single cycle of IVF treatment.
About half of couples can conceive within a year and three months of the reversal surgery.
While this may give you hope, there are so many factors that go into the TTC journey.
And there are just no guarantees along the way.
Can a vasectomy reverse itself naturally?
It’s rare for a vasectomy to reverse itself naturally, but it is possible.
This can happen particularly if the vas deferens weren’t fully severed or if there were any other surgical complications.
How often do vasectomies grow back?
We’re not really sure how many vasectomies heal themselves without medical or surgical intervention.
But it’s bound to be less than 1% of all vasectomies, considering the other potential reasons for pregnancy after vasectomy.
How do I know if my vasectomy failed?
Aside from accidentally getting pregnant, there is another way to tell whether your partner’s vasectomy worked ‒ one that isn’t nearly as life-changing!
It’s simple, really ‒ get a semen analysis.
A semen analysis will be able to detect if there is any sperm in your semen.
If there is sperm, there’s a chance your vasectomy has failed, or it’s too early to tell, so there’s a chance it could result in pregnancy.
If there is no sperm, the vasectomy was a success, and there’s very little chance of getting pregnant.
Can you sue if a vasectomy failed?
It depends on the reason the vasectomy failed – whether it’s because you had sex too soon after the procedure or there was a surgical error.
If it’s a surgical error, then yes, there is a chance you could sue for a failed vasectomy.
It’s best to have a chat with a lawyer with medico-legal expertise.
What are the chances of pregnancy after vasectomy reversal?
One of the benefits of a vasectomy is that you can get them reversed surgically.
But the rates of success of a vasectomy reversal can change vastly, even depending on the surgeon.
However, according to this small 1993 study, after a vasectomy reversal, 61.1% of couples were able to get pregnant, while 30.9% did not.
But the same study also suggested that the success rates of pregnancy after vasectomy reversals could even be as high as 67%.
If you’re after other people who are frantically searching “I got pregnant after vasectomy, help!,” or you’re looking for pregnant after vasectomy stories, you’re in the right place.
Whatever your journey, you don’t have to navigate it alone.
Join us on Peanut. We’re having the conversation.