What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a permanent and effective form of birth control for men. During the procedure, your vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from your testes, is cut and sealed. This blocks sperm from reaching semen so that, when ejaculated, it cannot get a woman pregnant.
The procedure typically takes 20-30 minutes and is safe with few side effects. Usually within a couple of days, you’re feeling better and back to your normal routine.
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Types of Vasectomies
Two most common types include:
- Conventional vasectomy. During this more traditional method, small cuts are made on each side of the scrotum to reach the vas deferens, which are cut, tied or fastened with a metal clip.
- No scalpel vasectomy. This newer, more modern method is done through one tiny hole in the skin. A tool is used to gently stretch the skin opening so that the vas deferens can be reached. Because no cuts are made, there is little bleeding. It heals quickly with little or no scarring.
Debunking the Myths about Vasectomy
It’s normal to have questions and concerns about a vasectomy, but sometimes myths about the procedure can lead to unfounded concerns. Here’s the truth about vasectomies. A vasectomy:
- Won’t affect your sexual performance. A vasectomy won’t affect your sex drive or your masculinity in any way other than preventing you from fathering a child. Men have even reported higher sexual satisfaction after a vasectomy.
- Is safe for your sexual organs. There's very little risk that your testicles, penis or other parts of your reproductive system will be injured during surgery.
- Doesn't increase your risk of certain cancersAlthough
there have been some concerns about a possible link between having a vasectomy
and getting testicular or prostate cancer in the past, there's no proven link.
- Doesn’t increase your risk of heart disease. As with cancer fears, there doesn't appear to be any link between vasectomy and heart problems.
- Causes minor, not severe, pain. You might feel minor pain and pulling or tugging during surgery, but severe pain is rare. Likewise, after surgery you might have some pain, but for most men the pain is minor and goes away after a few days.
Choosing a vasectomy as a form of birth control is a major decision. You should be 100% sure that it is the right decision for you before undergoing this procedure. You and your partner should talk about the decision to not have any more children. Having a vasectomy may be a good choice if:
- You are an adult male and you are either done having children or don’t want to have children.
- You are in a stable relationship and both partners agree to permanent birth control.
- Pregnancy would be a health risk for your partner.
- You or your partner has a genetic disorder that you don’t want to pass on to a child.
To learn more about a vasectomy and ask questions to determine if it is right for you, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified urologists.
It is important that you share your medical history with the doctor; include information about drugs (both prescription and over-the-counter), as well as supplements, you are taking. Be sure to tell your doctor about any drug allergies or bleeding conditions you have.
Your physician will tell you about any specific things you need to do (and know) to get ready for your procedure. Follow directions and recommendations as explained during the consultation. Wear comfortable, close-fitting underwear. It is recommended that you bring someone to drive you home after the procedure.
This procedure is most often done in our outpatient surgery center. Your vasectomy will most often be done under local anesthesia, but sedation is available for those who need it. The area will be numbed, but typically you will be awake. It takes about 20 - 30 minutes to complete the procedure.
Generally, here’s what happens during a vasectomy:
- You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that might get in the way during the procedure.
- You will remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown.
- You will be asked to empty your bladder.
- You will lie on your back on an exam table.
- Your scrotum may be shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic solution or special soap.
- The surgeon will inject a numbing medicine into your scrotum.
- The doctor will make either a small cut or opening on one side of your scrotum to find the vas deferens, which will be cut, tied or fastened with a metal clip. The site is closed and a bandage applied. The procedure is repeated on the other side of the scrotum to block the second vas deferens.
- In many cases, both vas deferens can be reached through the same hole.
- In some cases, small stitches or skin glue may be used to close the cuts.
You will likely be able to go home soon after surgery. The staff will watch you closely and the doctor may give you pain medication. You may be told to use an ice pack for the first day to reduce pain and swelling. Here is what you may expect during recovery:
- Rest at home the day after surgery. Don't do any strenuous activity. Avoid standing or walking too long.
- Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to go back in 1 to 3 days.
- You should be able to return to most activities in a week, but avoid heavy lifting and hard exercise for up to 1 to 3 weeks.
- You may need to wear a jock strap for a few days.
- You should not bathe or swim until 1 to 2 days after your vasectomy.
- You may be able to return to sexual activity in about a week, but you should continue to use another form of birth control until the doctor tests the semen to be sure there are no sperm left. This test is often performed about two months after surgery. It is important to know that vasectomies will occasionally fail and checking semen samples afterwards to confirm sterility is strongly recommended.
Vasectomy is very safe, but all surgeries carry some risks. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
- A lump in your scrotum
- Any drainage, bleeding, redness, or swelling
- Increasing pain or pain that is not eased by medicine
- Trouble passing urine
- Bleeding disorders
Possibly. Some vasectomies may be reversed, but the process can be more difficult than the actual vasectomy, isn’t always successful and can be expensive. Many insurance providers do not cover reversals.