Most vasectomy patients fail to comply with follow-up

April 20, 2006

One-fourth of men who undergo vasectomies forego having their semen tested to determine the procedure?s effectiveness, according to a Cleveland Clinic study.

One-fourth of men who undergo vasectomies forego having their semen tested to determine the procedure’s effectiveness, according to a Cleveland Clinic study. Of 436 men who participated in the study, only 21% complied with post-vasectomy instructions, which included submitting two consecutive semen samples declared free of sperm.

“Our results show that only three-quarters of the men in this study showed up for their 8-week sperm test, which means that a quarter of them had no idea whether the procedure was successful or if their partner could become pregnant,” said lead author Nivedita Dhar, MD. “Without proper follow-up, it’s impossible to assess the true vasectomy failure rate, despite careful counseling and physician recommendations.”

The team found that, of 327 men who returned for follow-up testing at 8 weeks, 25% were producing sperm, three men were producing active sperm, and one man was diagnosed with a failed vasectomy. At 12 weeks, 65 of the 80 men were given the all-clear. Eight men were still producing motile sperm 6 months after undergoing their procedures, whereas at 10 months, semen samples for all but the vasectomy failure were reported as clear.

These findings are consistent with previous research addressing non-compliance among vasectomy patients, according to study director J. Stephen Jones, MD, and suggested that compliance could be improved by recommending one follow-up test at 12 weeks, with further follow-ups if sperm is present.

Results were reported in the British Journal of Urology International (2006; 97:773-6).