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Following a vasectomy, sperm may be found in the semen for 6 weeks to 3 months or longer. Regular ejaculation (every 3-4 days) may eliminate sperm from the reproductive tract more quickly.
To check for the absence of sperm, semen should be evaluated for the presence of sperm 3 months postvasectomy and after a minimum of 20 ejaculations. Because the sperm count may be very low, the semen is centrifuged for concentration purposes.
A negative result from 1 well-mixed postvasectomy semen specimen generally indicates that use of contraception is no longer necessary. Occasional cases have been reported where postvasectomy semen analysis (PVSA) shows intermittent presence of rare nonmotile sperm (RNMS) in the semen.(1)
Determining absence or presence of sperm postvasectomy
Patients may stop using other methods of contraception when examination of 1 well-mixed postvasectomy semen specimen shows azoospermia or rare nonmotile sperm (RNMS < or = 100,000 nonmotile sperm/mL).
The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have postvasectomy azoospermia or postvasectomy semen analysis (PVSA) showing RNMS.(1)
If >100,000 nonmotile sperm/mL persist beyond 6 months after vasectomy, then trends of serial PVSAs and clinical judgment should be used to decide whether the vasectomy is a failure and whether repeat vasectomy should be considered.(1)
Vasectomy should be considered a failure if any motile sperm are seen on PVSA at 6 months after vasectomy, in which case repeat vasectomy should be considered.
No significant cautionary statements
Zero sperm seen
1. American Urologic Association Guidelines 2012. Available at: https://www.auanet.org/education/clinical-practice-guidelines.cfm