Reversible vasectomy available?
November 15, 2005 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Is the reversible vasectomy procedure now available in any country?

I've seen articles about a 'vasectomy' technique where the vas is plugged with a plastic plug that can be removed. Some comments in the earlier contraceptive seemed to imply that it was now an option.

This would suit my situation, and having kids at the wrong time is my nightmare, so I'd be prepared to travel to somewhere like India or China where they were being done.
posted by lunkfish to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I wish someone would answer this, as I, too, am curious. I couldn't dig up anything online so I'm afraid that it's probably another country thing.
posted by agregoli at 11:30 AM on November 15, 2005

The problem with vasectomy reversal isn't so much the reversal of the surgery itself. Putting the cut ends back together again is, as I understand it, not inordinately difficult. The problem is that, after you have a vasectomy, your epididymal ducts will change due to the sperm being manufactured and reabsorbed by the body over and over again, so that, as time goes on, it becomes less and less likely that sperm count and motility will recover to their pre-vasectomy levels.

Some men's bodies recover their pre-vasectomy levels quickly, though, and some don't recover them at all. You have no way to know which group you're in, unfortunately.

You also will have difficulty finding a doctor willing to perform the surgery on someone who's younger than 30 (which I'm thinking you probably are) and childless. Doctors really dislike being sued.

More information on reversal statistics may be found here.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:41 AM on November 15, 2005

You could take a standard vasectomy and just trust that medical technology will have figured out how to repair the damage by the time you decide you want kids...

This in no way answers your question, but I think it's worth considering should you find that there are no reliable reversible procedures.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 AM on November 15, 2005

Lunkfish, I had virtually the same question, and I'll tell you what I determined: a vasectomy has to be treated as a permanent change. Although reversal procedures exist, they are not 100% guaranteed. Mistakes can be made or there can be complications with your biology that just simply make it infeasible to consider an option, if you want to have kids later.

Instead, you will have to wait for the advances coming from India: currently, an electrically charged goo that gets inserted into the vans differens (?) and ruptures the cell walls of the sperm. There's a solvent that reverses the procedure. It supposedly has a 100% success rate.
posted by id at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2005

What you are thinking of (the removable plastic plug) is an intra vas device, similar to the female IUD. Clinical trials are ongoing, but it's not available yet.

I have read about RISUG, too, which is what I think id is referring to. I think it's being done in India, but I don't know if you can just go there and ask to have it done, or if it's in the trial stages, or what.

I can't offer much else but "I feel your pain." I'm frequently frustrated by the dearth of reproductive options for men--it's either condoms, with all the problems and risks they can pose, or a surgical procedure with a very low reversal rate. By the time any of this stuff is approved I'll be ready to have children anyway, though it might be useful for afterwards.
posted by Kosh at 1:05 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, might be a long shot but I'll keep an eye on what's happening.

I wish they'd get a move on - the RISUG looks like the best contraceptive idea yet.
posted by lunkfish at 1:32 PM on November 15, 2005

The RISUG procedure sounds interesting, but it also sounds a little suspect. I'd like to hear a lot more about that particular procedure because, if it works, it would most likely be the most popular form of contraceptive available.

That intra vas device sounds interesting but, other than that one link in the wikipedia article, it's hard to find any more information about it. I wonder what it's current status is (particularly in Canada) regarding safety and effectiveness.
posted by purephase at 4:38 PM on November 15, 2005

REMEMBER! Insurance will not likely cover a reversal, and the reversal procedures will set you back around twelve thousand dollars. Unless you're fabulously wealthy, that's a quite a load (ha! I make joke, see) to save up for.
posted by mimi at 4:57 PM on November 15, 2005

Male has more detail about RISUG and indicates that it is in late-phase trials in India, and that due to its one-off nature it might be unattractive to US pharma companies.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:36 PM on November 15, 2005

rxrfrx, thanks for that link! Very interesting and useful.
posted by scody at 6:33 PM on November 15, 2005

rxtfrx, I second scody's thanks. This sounds a lot like the intra vas device mentioned above. I'm emailing Dr. Pollock to find out if there is any new information about the shug and whether it has progressed since 2001 in clinical trials and/or acceptance.

I certainly hope it has.
posted by purephase at 8:23 PM on November 15, 2005

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