Men’s Health: What Is A Vasectomy?
Vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. This procedure has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. Before undergoing this procedure, you need to be certain you don’t want to father a child in the future. Although reversals are possible, a vasectomy should be considered a permanent form of male birth control. In addition, this procedure offers no protection from sexually transmitted infections.
How It Is Performed
During the procedure, the two vas deferens are cut and sealed off. This prevents sperm from traveling from the testes to the penis. It is the only change in your reproductive system. The testes still produce sperm. But since the sperm have nowhere to go, they die and are absorbed by your body. Only a very small amount of semen is made up of sperm. So after this procedure, your semen won’t look or feel any different. There are two types of vasectomy:
- Conventional vasectomy involves making one or more small cuts in the scrotum (sac that holds the testicles) to access and cut the vas deferens.
- No-scalpel vasectomy involves making a small puncture in the scrotum. The urologist then pulls the vas deferens out of the small puncture hole to cut it.
Problems that might occur after this procedure include bleeding, infection and a usually mild inflammatory type of reaction to sperm that may have gotten loose during surgery (called sperm granuloma). Call your doctor if you notice any of these signs:
- swelling that won’t go down or keeps getting worse
- trouble urinating
- you can feel a marble-sized lump in your scrotum
- bleeding from an incision that doesn’t stop even after you’ve pinched the site between two gauze pads for 10 minutes
How Effective Is A Vasectomy?
This procedure is one of the most effective forms of birth control. In the first year afterward, only 15 to 20 of every 10,000 couples will experience a pregnancy. In comparison, 1,400 of every 10,000 couples have a pregnancy each year using condoms, and 500 of every 10,000 couples experience a pregnancy each year using oral contraceptive pills. Men however still need to use other birth control until the remaining sperm are cleared out of the semen. This takes 15 to 20 ejaculations, or about 3 months. Even then, 1 of every 5 men will still have sperm in his semen and will need to wait longer for the sperm to clear.
A vasectomy is an effective and permanent way to prevent pregnancy. It’s the best option for men who are certain they don’t want children. A vasectomy also doesn’t have any lasting effects on sexual activity or performance. Compared to female sterilization, a vasectomy is:
- more effective
- can be performed on an outpatient basis
- has fewer complications
- much less expensive.
A vasectomy doesn’t provide immediate protection against pregnancy. Use an alternative form of birth control until your doctor confirms there are no sperm in your semen. Before having unprotected sex, you’ll need to wait several months or longer and ejaculate 15 to 20 times or more to clear any sperm from your semen. Most doctors will also do a follow-up semen analysis six to 12 weeks after surgery to be certain that no sperm are present.
A Vasectomy is an effective method of birth control, but the procedure does have its risks. Also, it isn’t always reversible. So if you decide that you don’t want children in the future, this procedure may be a good option to discuss with your doctor.