Getting a vasectomy is a tough decision for a guy. Just the thought of allowing a sharp object near your genitals can make the strongest men quiver.
But if you decide to go through with it (i.e. your wife makes you go through with it), then you’ve joined thousands of other brave men (ladies, try not to laugh) who’ve undergone the procedure. About half a million do it each year.
You’ve probably heard that a vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of birth control. Despite its effectiveness, it’s not foolproof. That’s right, you can get snipped and still get your partner pregnant.
So what causes vasectomy failure? And how can guys get their partner pregnant even years after the procedure? Here are the main culprits.
You Don’t Get the All Clear
Most vasectomy failures happen in the first few months after the procedure, and you don’t know it failed until your wife is staring at the home pregnancy test in disbelief. This is most likely due to human error. And you’re the human we’re talking about.
Sperm can live in your vas deferens for months after your doctor severs them, which means you have a chance to impregnate your partner. That’s why doctors tell couples to use another form of birth control for at least three months after the procedure to flush any lingering sperm out.
After that, you need to confirm your sterility by checking your sperm count. Not keen on going back to the doctor to supply a sample? You can test your status at home with SpermCheck, an over-the-counter male fertility test. It’ll let you know if you’re sterile and can ditch the birth control.
Your Doctor Missed the Vas Deferens
There are rare cases when the doctor misses the vas deferens during a vasectomy. This can occur because challenges with the patient’s anatomy (obesity, scar tissue or extremely thin vas deferens) or if the surgeon cuts two portions from one vas or ties up something other than the vas.
If you follow the proper post-vasectomy sperm check, then you and your doctor will probably catch this mistake before you get a surprise pregnancy.
Your Vas Deferens Reconnect
Even with a successful surgery and you following the proper post-vasectomy plan, your vas deferens can reconnect months or years later. In some cases, this has happened 10 years after a vasectomy!
So how does it happen? Well, even after your vas deferens are severed, your epididymis still carries sperm. The pressure from spermatic fluid can create small drainage channels in the tissue on ends of the severed vas deferens.
Over time, these channels can connect to the divided vas deferens and sperm will have a pathway to the seminal vesicles. Again, this is rare and happens in only .025% of cases.
No medical procedure is 100% foolproof, including a vasectomy. Failure is rare, but there are instances where it could happen. Some issues are out of your control, but you can make sure you’re not careless those first few months after the procedure by using birth control and checking your sperm count.