What Is a Vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a type of permanent birth control for men. It’s a safe surgical procedure that stops sperm from being released. It’s a quick procedure that can be done in the office in most cases.
Although a vasectomy prevents pregnancy, it can’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
How Does It Work?
The concept is simple – a vasectomy cuts the sperm supply line, keeping them from ever reaching the semen.
Sperm are made in the testes, separate from the fluids that are released with ejaculation. To be present in semen, sperm travel up the sperm ducts called the vas deferens, where they eventually mix with seminal fluid before ejaculation.
A vasectomy stops the sperm from moving up the vas deferens, preventing them from reaching the seminal fluid. The fluid is still ejaculated as normal, but it’s missing the key ingredient for causing pregnancy. With nowhere to go, the sperm cells are simply reabsorbed by the body.
This procedure doesn’t change sexual function, desire, or sensation. In fact, men often report having better sex after a vasectomy without the burden of birth control or worry about unintended pregnancy.
The Vasectomy Procedure
Most men can have a vasectomy right in their urologist’s office with a local anesthetic. You’ll be awake but won’t feel much of the procedure. Some urologists offer gas anesthesia with nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”. If you elect to have nitrous oxide, you will not remember any of the procedure.
After numbing the scrotum, your doctor makes a tiny puncture or incision to access the vas deferens. He’ll pull a small part of the vas deferens out through the hole. If you are awake, you may feel a tugging sensation during this step. He will then cut the tube and either tie off, clip or cauterize the ends to keep sperm from traveling up the vas deferens. After putting the ends back into the scrotum, the incision or puncture is closed.
Recovering from a vasectomy
Afterward, you may have some bruising, pain, and swelling. Applying ice packs to the scrotum and wearing tight-fitting underwear helps. Most men take a few days off to rest and recover, then can return to light activity after a few days.
Even though a vasectomy immediately cuts off the supply of sperm, sperm already moving up the vas deferens before the procedure may still cause pregnancy. It can take up to three months for the vas deferens to completely empty of sperm, and pregnancy is possible during that time. Using another form of birth control is important until a lab verifies that there is no longer any sperm in your semen.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Every year, more than half a million men in the U.S. have vasectomies. There are many good reasons to choose a vasectomy, including:
- You and your partner have the right-sized family and don’t want more children.
- You and your long-term partner agree you want permanent birth control.
- You don’t want your partner to take hormones or undergo tubal ligation, which is an invasive
- surgical procedure with more risks than vasectomy.
- Pregnancy would be risky for your partner.
- You’re worried about passing on a genetic disorder.
- You want to enjoy the spontaneity possible when birth control isn’t a concern.
- You’re done having children, or don’t want any, and want to save on birth control. Vasectomy is
- less expensive in the long run than temporary birth control methods.
- You want the most effective birth control with the lowest rate of failure.
Are There Risks?
Although vasectomy is typically very safe, any surgical procedure has some risks. After a vasectomy, it’s possible to experience:
- Long-lasting pain
- Pain and swelling in the testis
- Short-term bleeding, bruising, and swelling
- Sperm granuloma – an inflammatory reaction
- Vas deferens that grow back together, causing an unexpected pregnancy
How Permanent is a Vasectomy?
Even though a vasectomy is called a permanent form of birth control, it is often possible to reverse it. A skilled surgeon can accomplish this by joining the cut ends of the vas deferens back together. Reversal isn’t always successful, so a vasectomy should never be treated as a temporary measure.
Don’t delay getting a vasectomy any longer – schedule an appointment today!