Age and Vasectomy Reversal
One of the most common reasons men desire vasectomy reversal is that they have entered into a relationship with a different partner than the partner whom they had children with prior to their vasectomy.
Sometimes, much time has elapsed from the time of the vasectomy to the time when a man desires a vasectomy reversal. It is well known that a vasectomy can be successfully reversed even after a prolonged interval of time between vasectomy and reversal (my longest successful interval is 42 years), but the common question remains: “Is there an age past vasectomy when a reversal isn’t indicated?” In other words, can a man ever be “too old” to have a vasectomy reversal, or father a child?
Women have a well defined “fertile period” and we know that once a woman enters her early to mid 40s her ability to get pregnant naturally can be very challenging. Women are born with a fixed number of eggs, and once she starts puberty and starts having her cycle, she loses eggs every month with ovulation. A woman’s challenge with getting pregnant as she ages isn’t because she “runs out of eggs,” but is related to the age of the eggs. For a woman who is 45, her eggs are also 45, and they will not necessarily be able to fertilize normally or go on to result in the birth of a healthy child. Many of us know of women in their 40s and even early 50s who have gotten pregnant, but generally speaking, most women don’t easily become pregnant at these ages, and many women seeking fertility at these ages use donor eggs as an option.
Men, on the other hand, work completely differently – are we surprised? Men start making sperm once they reach puberty. They constantly make new sperm and turn over their complete sperm reserve every 3-4 months. As a result, men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s will have normal sperm production, assuming no other contributing condition, and their biological age has little to do with their ability to make sperm. Eventually, age does catch up to the testicles, and we know that once a man reaches his 70s and 80s his testicles do start to fail and sperm producing capabilities do decrease significantly. Men at these advanced ages still may make sperm, but their sperm counts will often not be normal.
I regularly perform microsurgical vasectomy reversal on men in their 50s and 60s, and assuming good baseline health, men in this age group make up a large percentage of the men we perform reversal on. It is important for men regardless of age who are interested in fertility after vasectomy to know that vasectomy reversal is an excellent option for them, and the only way to conceive naturally after vasectomy. The age of their female partner is the biggest concern when evaluating a couple who desire fertility, and we will discuss a variety of fertility options with couples where advanced female partner age is an issue.