This is a post from Heather Schwarzen of To Sow a Seed
Surgical sterilization is meant to be permanent. Permanent as in, “this is it. Choice is made. No going back.” Decisions of that life-altering magnitude should be undertaken with fear and trembling before the Lord, with not a little humbleness, and with much, much prayer.
But what if, after all that, you do the deed … and change your mind?
That was my husband and I just two years after having made the call to end our fertility. Having journeyed through three pregnancies in four years– two of which were high risk– and being knee-deep in what felt like the Herculean task of raising three very young children, we were done. My husband underwent a vasectomy, with not only my full consent, but my unbridled encouragement. But as my baby slipped into toddlerhood, and my faith in Christ grew deeper, I regretted my enthusiasm for sterilization. Determined not to be the dripping water wife of the Proverbs, I kept mum about my aching heart. After all, it was largely my doing that had brought us to this place. And really, what man lines up for not one, but two surgeries on his most tender parts?
Little did I know, God was working on my husband’s heart at the same time. In the spring of 2005, we shared what God was speaking to us in a tearful, soul-searching conversation and decided that yes, we would seek a reversal. We had little idea what that entailed, exactly, but we knew that if He was asking us to walk down this road, he would be in the details.
Being almost ten years out from the surgery, I can now look back on that conversation with the wisdom of having not only put in the research prior to the reversal and having lived through the recovery and ensuing years, but also of having spoken with countless others who have done the same. If you’re considering reversal surgery, you are not alone! Thousands upon thousands of Christians seek to undo the act that made them surgically infertile. As you’ll find out if you’re looking into vasectomy reversals, there are many myths surrounding the surgery and outcomes. Here’s what you need to know as you’re praying over your second life change in this area:
MYTH: Vasectomy reversals are pricey. REALITY: The cost depends on many factors. The type of vasectomy performed initially impacts price, in most cases. Traditional vasectomies (cutting and cauterizing the vas deferens), tying off the vas, and VasClip removal surgeries require different skills and levels of repair. Your surgeon may charge more for something he considers more details or time-intensive. Also, there’s the question of the type of surgery (more traditional versus microsurgery), the location fees (hospital outpaities versus day surgery center) and the anesthesia required. Regardless, your insurance will rarely cover a reversal. So, unlike that vasectomy, which probably only required a co-pay, you will definitely be footing the entire bill. Shopping around for urologists will reveal a wide range, with most surgeries falling between $2,000 and $12,000. Which leads us to …
MYTH: Vasectomy reversal ministries are always cheaper than local doctors. REALITY: You just never know. We started our journey assuming that we’d have to incorporate plane tickets and hotel stays into our budget in order to stay under $6,000. A urologist nearing retirement in the next town decided after meeting us that he would perform the surgery and keep all the fees under $4,000. In the end, our bill was actually even cheaper. Asking for recommendations, being bold and looking for specifically Christian doctors, and negotiating cash discounts can make a local surgery cheaper than one performed elsewhere as a ministry.
MYTH: Reversals are no big deal. REALITY: This is not just another 24-hour recovery surgery. Chances are good that your husband had a vasectomy performed on a Friday, came home, took up residence on your couch with an ice pack between his legs for the next day, started walking around fairly well Sunday, and made it to work Monday with no issues. Don’t assume the same for a reversal. The more intricate repair results in more pain, swelling, and discomfort– hence, a longer recovery time. Plan on a couple of fully down days, and several more days of your beloved wincing his way around the house.
MYTH: Vasectomy reversals always “work.” REALITY: Pregnancy rates post-reversal vary from surgeon to surgeon, but hover in the 50-80% range if performed within 10 years of the original vasectomy. Ten years is the big tipping point, it turns out. Reversals after that point dip down to 30% in terms of pregnancy. Talk to your individual surgeon about the outcomes of his procedures, and remember that the medical definition of “success” is the appearance of motile sperm– not a new little one in your arms. Again, the original method employed in blocking your husband’s fertility comes into play: some procedures are more easily returned to their natural state, or allow for the passage of sperm again.
MYTH: You will get pregnant right away after a reversal. REALITY: It happens … but it’s not as common as you’d think. A man’s sperm count rises slowly after a reversal, usually over the course of three to twelve months. On top of that, a man’s reserve of sperm completely turns over every few months, meaning that it can take a few seasons before things are back to their pre-vas level. Even a successful reversal, with evidence of motile sperm at the first count, can take a year to result in a positive test.
Nine years after my husband went under the knife for a second time, I’m happy to say that he doesn’t regret a single dime or discomfort. Our two post-reversal blessings are now 4 and almost 2. As if obedience in following the Lord’s call wasn’t reward enough, we are honored to have two additional family members who we’d have otherwise never welcomed. Talk about grateful!