How long does it take to get an "all clear" after a vasectomy?
October 22, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are a bit flummoxed. Can you help us figure out if I'm an outlier or if the procedure was unsuccessful?

I had a traditional vasectomy in early July. Per my urologists instructions, I waited more than three months and definitely more than 30 ejaculations to be tested. Today I received my results of "sperm seen; retest in three months after another 30 ejaculations."

We had really been hoping - and assuming, I have to admit - that we'd be in the clear. I waited longer than required, and used the time to, uh, work towards this goal. I reviewed prior questions and was surprised to see most people testing much sooner and receiving clear results. All this has got me worried. So is "sperm seen" at 3-4 months post-procedure enough of an outlier that I need to be talking to my doctor and not just waiting another three months?

FYI the urologist described my procedure as typical and successful, and my recovery seemed typical compared to other accounts I read here.

posted by werkzeuger to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can't hurt to call.

We were clear at 6 weeks.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:43 PM on October 22, 2014

If there were still sperm seen at 3-4 months past the operation, if this were my junk, I'd be concerned. That said, it's not like there's anything external, or simple to see for the doctor to check his/her work; I'd imagine that the next step to take for a urologist would be to either no-scapel you open again and take a look, and redo the procedure (well, likely no cutting is needed, but maybe re-cauterize the ends. So they'll likely insist on protocol, which it sounds like the answer is going to be waiting longer (and it might even be check every three months until a year has gone by) and retesting.

I'm sorry and good luck.
posted by nobeagle at 1:47 PM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

We totally had this issue. More to the point we got the "all clear" after 3 months and then got a call back "Um, not totally all clear..." which worked out okay but was nervewracking. If you call the lab they should be able to tell you if the sperm they're seeing is like one or two holdouts (basically zero but they can't say zero if it's not zero) or NOT that. There's no reason not to call your doc. Maybe also see if you can get re-tested sooner than three months because unless something went wrong you really should be at the "any day now" stage.
posted by jessamyn at 1:51 PM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

When I got mine, I was provided with 2 sample cups - one for 90+ days and the other for 180, if the first wasn't clear.

So, I don't think it is that unusual. That said - I'm some dude on the internet - if you've got concerns, call your doctor. You won't be the first, and he can tell you better the hows and whys.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:55 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agree with the rest here that you definitely need to ask some more questions about this. I would touch base with the Urologist and see if they could suggest some questions to ask of the lab when you call them. I'm sure this is common and there are standard questions to be asked, answers to be offered and a plan of action going forward.

I had to be declared All Clear twice before I got the go ahead for condom-free sexy times.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 3:00 PM on October 22, 2014

Thanks for all the helpful responses so far.

This question was prompted by my "results" which took the form of a fold-over postcard from the urologist indicating the three possibilities of 1. no sperm, you're good to go! 2. no sperm, check again in one month, or 3. sperm seen, check again in three months (my answer in this case). So not actually real lab results with sciency-talk.

It does seem like at the very least I'm on the long end of the spectrum WRT how long this takes. I will be contacting my doc to see what the actual lab results were. I have to think that if this automatically indicates a failed procedure, the check mark would indicate "call us as soon as possible."

Jessamyn, thanks for the info. If you're comfortable sharing, could you explain how your situation resolved...was it simply a matter of waiting longer, despite the test result confusion?

Can anyone explain the worse-case scenario, which is I guess that the procedure failed? How does that happen?

Thanks again. You guys are great. This news was a bit depressing for us.
posted by werkzeuger at 4:26 PM on October 22, 2014

Yeah basically we had been ... really hoping to be given the all-clear and got a phone call from the doc's office saying "All clear" and we were like "Yay!" and then got a letter with specifics (I think this was the chain of events?) that said "Oh there were a few limping sperm in there, better use a back-up method" a week later and we were like "ARARARARRARARA" and then my SO went in a few weeks later to get another test and they gave him the all-clear then. So he got the procedure done in June, the initial all-clear after the 3-months-or-30-ejaculations test was in late August and then I think the final test/all-clear was in mid-September. So we didn't have to wait through another three months, my guy just called and was a pest until they let him take another test after a few weeks.

And depending on the procedure you had, you might have plugs in your vas deferens or you might have clamps. Either of those could fail. If you got actual "We sliced your tubes in two" procedure, then the test could indicate there's some other issue (maybe with the test!). The good news is urologists have heard it before and if you're not calling with unbearable nut pain they will probably be happy to hear what you have to say (So, too, with nut pain but it's a tougher conversation because it happens to some people and it's harder to fix).
posted by jessamyn at 4:37 PM on October 22, 2014

I can tell you that my uncle's vasectomy failed (and they have a surprise fourth kid); turns out he has TWO vas deferens, which was not known until they went back in to find out why the initial procedure had not worked. (And then it turns out this runs in his family, oops.)

So that's one reason it might have failed.
posted by devinemissk at 5:41 PM on October 22, 2014

To my recollection, my ex was cleared within a week. I'd get a second opinion if I were you.
posted by mibo at 6:13 PM on October 22, 2014

could you explain how your situation resolved...was it simply a matter of waiting longer, despite the test result confusion?

My husband had a few left at three months and none a couple of months later. It's perfectly normal. The Dr said those few didn't look viable and were just left overs not yet flushed out, but they can't say none until there really are none because it's not safe yet regardless of why they are still there.

You should talk with your Dr for peace of mind and to be clear what exactly is happening in your case, but the advice is going to be keep using other birth control and wait another three months. It's too early to be deciding if it failed just yet.
posted by shelleycat at 11:14 PM on October 22, 2014

I had to be declared All Clear twice before I got the go ahead for condom-free sexy times.

This was also standard procedure with my husband's Dr FWIW. I know people that skipped the second test and just went for it anyway, but that's done at their own risk.
posted by shelleycat at 11:16 PM on October 22, 2014

One final follow up: at six months post-procedure, everything's good! Sometimes it just takes longer, I guess.

Thanks for all the answers.
posted by werkzeuger at 8:05 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

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