Can I get a vasectomy reversal on the NHS?

Vasectomy reversal is a complicated procedure that isn't always guaranteed to work.

A vasectomy, also known as "male sterilisation". works by preventing sperm from the testes (the male sex glands that produce and store sperm) reaching the semen that is ejaculated during orgasm. 

This is achieved by cutting or blocking the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis.

A vasectomy is usually considered to be a permanent form of contraception because it is not always possible to reverse the procedure. If you are considering having a vasectomy, you should bear this in mind and think very carefully before making your decision.

Reversing a vasectomy involves rejoining the sperm-carrying tubes that were cut or blocked during your vasectomy.

Can I get a vasectomy reversal on the NHS?

Vasectomy reversal is not usually available on the NHS. If it is available in your area, there may be a very long waiting list. Speak to your GP for more information.

It is possible to have a vasectomy reversal carried out privately, but it may cost several thousand pounds. The problem with the procedure is that success rates are low and there is no guarantee that your fertility will return.

Success rates for vasectomy reversal

Whether or not a vasectomy reversal is successful may depend on what type of vasectomy you had and how long ago it took place. For example, the more time that has passed since your vasectomy, the more scar tissue will have developed in the tubes that carry sperm to your penis.

It is estimated that the success rate of a vasectomy reversal is:

  • 75% if you have your vasectomy reversed within three years
  • up to 55% after three to eight years
  • approximately 30-40% after nine to 19 years

These figures are based on the number of couples who successfully have a baby after the man has had a vasectomy reversal. Pregnancy rates also depend on the fertility of the female partner and are lower if she is 40 or older.

In some cases pregnancy still may not happen after a vasectomy reversal, even when there is sperm in your semen. This is because your sperm may be less mobile after the procedure than they were before.

It may be possible to have fertility treatment in these cases. You should see your GP for further information and advice about this.

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Can I get a female sterilisation reversal on the NHS?

Female sterilisation is considered a permanent form of contraception. The operation involves cutting, sealing or blocking the fallopian tubes. This prevents the eggs from reaching the uterus (womb) where they could become fertilised, resulting in pregnancy.

Reversing female sterilisation

Female sterilisation can be reversed, but it is a very difficult process that involves removing the blocked part of the fallopian tube and rejoining the ends. There is no guarantee that you will be fertile again (be able to get pregnant) after a sterilisation reversal.

The success rates of female sterilisation reversal vary widely and depend on factors such as age and the method that was used in the original operation. For example, if your tubes were clipped rather than tied, a successful reversal is more likely.  

Availability

Sterilisation reversal is not usually available on the NHS. If it is available in your area, there may be a very long waiting list. Speak to your GP for more information.

It is possible to have a sterilisation reversal done privately, although it will cost in the region of £4,500-£5,500. Again, there is no guarantee that the procedure will be successful.

If a sterilisation reversal is not possible, fertility treatment such as IVF may be an option. The cost will depend upon the treatment you have and you should consult your GP for further advice. As with a reversal, there is no guarantee that fertility treatment will be successful.

For these reasons, sterilisation is only usually recommended if you are completely sure that you no longer want children. Before deciding to be sterilised, you should also consider the other options that are available to you.

Long-acting contraception

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, such as the contraceptive implantcontraceptive injection and IUD (intrauterine device, or coil), may be more suitable if you do not want to get pregnant in the next few years but you decide to in the future.

vasectomy (male sterilisation) is another possibility, and it might be a better option if you and your partner already have children and you do not want to have any more.