Q&A: Is Pregnancy Still Possible After A Vasectomy?
Q: Is pregnancy still possible if a man had a vasectomy? – N. Thomas
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A: There is a very small chance of pregnancy after a vasectomy. Vasectomy is 99.85% effective birth control, with 2 out of 1000 women having an unplanned pregnancy after vasectomy.
There are three primary reasons why pregnancy may occur after a vasectomy:
- Not using birth control after resuming sex
- Reconnection of the vas deferens that allows sperm and semen to mix again
- Technical Error
It’s important to follow your doctor’s after care instructions following the procedure, which includes wearing a scrotal support for 3 to 4 days after. Sperm gradually decreases, usually within three months or 10 to 20 ejaculations, and your doctor will consider the vasectomy successful once no traces of sperm are present in the semen. This is when it is considered safe to discontinue using birth control.
Sperm still present in semen (non-zero sperm count)
After a vasectomy, live sperm may still be present in a man’s semen for a number of months. This means that there is still a risk of impregnating a woman after the operation. Alternate contraception must be used until there is no sperm present (azoospermia).
Most doctors advise their patients that they should be sterile after two to three months and/or 20-25 ejaculations, but these are simply guidelines. It is still possible for a man to get a woman pregnant even if he is outside of these ranges. This is why doctors generally instruct their patients to have at least one semen analysis performed by a lab at some point after their operation. A sperm count is the only way to be certain a man is sterile.
When a pregnancy occurs after vasectomy due to unprotected intercourse before the “all clear” is given, it is known as a “technical error”. While most men understand that they can still get a woman pregnant immediately following their vasectomy, a surprisingly large portion of men (40% to 50%) don’t go back for a semen analysis.
Until your semen sample is totally sperm-free, you should continue to use birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
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