Some patients are concerned over the possibility of birth defects being higher after a vasectomy reversal. The decision to continue having kids after a vasectomy can be a big one and it’s natural to want all your bases covered. So, what does the science say about it?
A landmark study known as the Vasovasostomy Study Group (VVSG) trial sought to answer to that question. Published in 1991 by Dr. Arnold Belker, he and four other surgeons conducted the trial accross five different centers. Described by Herrel as a landmark surgical study in “Meta-analysis of the Microsurgical Vasovasostomy literature”, this study holds quite a bit of weight.
The study followed 291 children born after a vasectomy reversal, tracking their development and medical histories to see what effects, if any, vasectomy reversal had. The study found that, out of the 291, 3 had birth defects- or about 1%.
So how does that compare to the prevalence of birth defects across the nation? Well, according to the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, published in Pediatrics by Hoyert in 2006, the annual birth defect rate is said to be 3%. Other studies fluctuate between 3% and 5%. The defect rate was actually lower for children born post-vasovasostomy.
Now, does vasectomy reversal reduces or increases the risk of birth defects?
Probably not. Based on what we know, vasectomy and vasovasostomy does not affect the genetic quality of the sperm. In actuality, there is almost certainly no difference in the rate of birth defects regardless if you had a vasectomy reversal or not.
Back in 2006, a study conducted at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok showed that chromosomal abnormalities of sperms were more common in vasectomized men than men with healthy fertility. However, the authors of the study acknowledged that they were unsure whether these findings would support the theory that the risk of birth defects was higher after vasectomy reversal. So far, there have been no follow-up studies to confirm that such a link exists.
Although vasectomy reversal birth defects are among the possible risks discussed during the consultation, most men are pleased to hear that there is no definitive evidence to suggest that the rate of birth defects after vasectomy reversal is significantly higher than that among the general population. In fact, the rate of birth defects may actually be higher among those who achieve pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which has been indicated in many researches.
Based on the available scientific literature and our own experiences, if you are looking for a vasectomy reversal, you have nothing to worry about as far as having healthy children go.