Vasectomy reversal is as viable in men over 50 as in those who are younger, a new study says.
About 20% of American men who have a vasectomy want to father children in the future, and about 6% will seek a vasectomy reversal, previous research shows.
However, it's been unclear how a man's age may affect his chance for a successful reversal.
To find out, researchers analyzed the outcomes of vasectomy reversal in about 3,000 men older than 50 (average age: 54) and 350 younger men (average age: 39). All of their procedures were performed by one surgeon.
After vasectomy reversal, the partners of 33.4% of the younger men and 26.1% of the older men got pregnant.
The study found that the chances of pregnancy were better when the woman was under 35 and/or the man had had his vasectomy fewer than 10 years before. The odds were lower if the man smoked.
"When we did a statistical analysis, and examined all these other factors involved, the data showed that age had no bearing on success," said study lead investigator Dr. Mary Samplaski, a specialist who treats male infertility at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.
Researchers noted that one reason older men in the study were statistically less successful than younger men in getting their partners pregnant was because older men tended to have older partners.
"These results are exciting for men looking to start families later in life who have had a vasectomy," Samplaski said in a USC news release.
"This research is especially timely because anecdotally, fertility doctors are seeing an increase in the number of men interested in vasectomy reversals as couples focus on family planning during the COVID-19 pandemic," she added.
Couples wanting to get pregnant after a vasectomy have two main choices: vasectomy reversal and sperm extraction with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
IVF has risks, such as psychological distress and multiple births, and typically costs more than a reversal, making reversal a better choice for many couples, Samplaski said.
The findings were recently published in the journal Urology.