Vasectomy Reversal Cost and Alternatives
Certainly there are other ways to build a family besides vasectomy reversal. Sperm retrieval in association with IVF-ICSI is one possibility. Couples can also purchase sperm that has been donated and banked at a sperm bank for this purpose. These sperm samples are very safe as the donors have been screened for 26 diseases and the sperm banking process is a highly regulated one. In addition, sperm donation is usually cheaper than most others, as the female partner may only need an office procedure termed intrauterine insemination or IUI to conceive. Sperm donation can either be made anonymously or specific individuals can be asked to donate sperm on behalf of a recipient (directed donation). Finally, adoption is another way to build a family. Adoption can be as expensive as IVF-ICSI with sperm retrieval, and can take several years to complete the process, but is a valuable way for some couples to achieve their family building goals. Childfree living is a less desirable vasectomy reversal alternative.
The Cost of Vasectomy Reversal vs. IVF and ICSI
Assisted reproduction uses “test tube baby” technology also called in vitro fertilization or IVF, for the female partner along with sperm retrieval techniques for the male partner to help them build a family. This technology, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has been available since 1992 and became available as an alternative to vasectomy reversal soon after. In his consultation visit, Dr. Turek offers this option to all couples who desire to build a family and want more children; he can explain it in detail. Dr. Turek has also done cutting edge research to identify the issues that matter most as couples decide between these two very different approaches to family building. He has studied and published on the cost-effectiveness of these approaches to family building. From this published work, Dr. Turek has learned that vasectomy reversal can be the most cost effective way to build a family if:
- the female partner is reproductively healthy, and
- the surgeon can achieve good outcomes with the vasectomy reversal.
Assuming that insurance does not cover either vasectomy reversal or IVF-ICSI, the choice of which one is better for a couple can be difficult to make. IVF-ICSI is usually twice as expensive as a vasectomy reversal procedure, but not necessarily twice as effective. For details on cost comparison of vasectomy reversal to other treatment options, please read Dr. Turek’s published papers:
If the surgeon can achieve high “patency” rates (moving sperm in the ejaculate) after the reversal surgery, however, then vasectomy reversal is always as competitive as IVF-ICSI. When Dr. Turek used computer modeling techniques to see what issues mattered the most in cases of advanced maternal age (defined as a female partner > 38 years old), he found that female reproductive health is far more important than:
- the age of the vasectomy,
- the age of the man, or
- the vasectomy reversal patency rate after procedure.
This is why Dr. Turek is very interested in learning about the female partner when seeing candidate couples in The Turek Clinic. Ultimately the decision to pursue either option is a personal one for each couple.