At Men’s Vitality Center in Tucson, our patients often come to us looking for advice on birth control methods. While there are not many methods of male birth control out there, there is one permanent option that many men consider: vasectomies.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a surgery that prevents sperm from being released upon ejaculation. During a vasectomy, the vas deferens are cut, clamped, or sealed in another way. The vas deferens are the pathways for the sperm to mix with semen. By severing the vas deferens, when a man ejaculates, no sperm is in his semen. In order to impregnate a woman’s egg, semen must have sperm. This surgery does not stop sperm from being produced by the body; instead, the sperm is reabsorbed, which is also what happens when sperm is not ejaculated after some time. The amount of fluid ejaculated is unchanged because the tubes are blocked before the prostate and seminal vesicles, where semen is made.
In general, it takes a few months after the procedure for the rest of the sperm to either be ejaculated from the body or reabsorbed into the body. Therefore, it is necessary to use a different birth control method until the semen is tested and has a sperm count of zero. It is still possible to get a woman pregnant before the zero sperm count has been confirmed by a doctor.
What to expect during a vasectomy
While the exact procedure may vary from person to person and clinic to clinic, here is a general outline of what you can expect during a vasectomy.
- The procedure lasts roughly half an hour, and can be done in our men’s health clinic.
- An antiseptic is used to clean the testicles and scrotum. These parts may also be shaved.
- Medicine is administered, whether through an IV or orally, to reduce anxiety. This may affect your memory of the surgery.
- The doctor locates the vas deferens by touch.
- The area is injected with a local anesthetic.
- The doctor makes a small opening or two in the scrotum. The vas deferens are cut through this opening. The two ends of the vas deferens are then sealed, tied, or stitched.
- Your doctor may use electrocautery on these ends in order to create scar tissue, which blocks the tubes more effectively.
- The vas deferens are placed back inside the scrotum and the scrotum is closed using stitches that disintegrate and therefore, do not have to be removed later.
The procedure described above is a traditional vasectomy. There are also two other types of vasectomies. A no-scalpel vasectomy uses a small clamp instead of using a scalpel. The clamp uses pointed ends to poke through the scrotum’s skin. This creates a smaller hole, and also bleeds less and leads to fewer complications. It is also just as effective as the tradition vasectomy method.
You can also get a Vasclip implant. During this procedure, a device called the Vasclip is used to lock the vas deferens closed. The benefit of this procedure is that because the vas deferens are clamped instead of cut, there is less pain and fewer complications. However, this method is considered less effective than the other two.
Recovering from a vasectomy
After surgery, you can expect your scrotum to be numb for a couple of hours. For the rest of the day, lay down and ice the area. Consider wearing more supportive underwear or a jockstrap for protection.
Minor pain and swelling may occur for a few days after your vasectomy. Do not lift heavy objects for a week. If your work is not strenuous, you can return to work within two days.
Sexual intercourse can resume once you are comfortable, generally in a week. However, keep in mind that your partner may still become pregnant until you find our your sperm count is zero, so continue using a different method of birth control. You will get a follow up sperm count test two months later; once your sperm count is zero, you can stop using other birth control methods.
For a few months after surgery, you may occasionally feel aching in your testicles when you are aroused, but this should go away. A vasectomy does not affect sex drive, erectile function, intensity of orgasms, or ejaculation.
Why have a vasectomy
A vasectomy is a good birth control option if you know that you do not want children in the future. It is a common choice for men who are married and either do not intend to have children or have had as many children as they want. It’s important to be sure that you don’t want anymore kids before having a vasectomy because it is a permanent birth control method. While there is technically a reversal procedure, it is risky and also may not work.
Vasectomy is 99.85 percent effective, making it an extremely effective method of birth control. Out of 1,000 women, only one or two will have an unexpected pregnancy after their partners have had vasectomies. This may occur because they do not use an additional method of birth control before the sperm count is zero. In extremely rare instances, the vas deferens may spontaneously reconnect, or it may open, allowing sperm to escape into the semen.
As vasectomy is a low-risk procedure. Potential complications include:
- Swelling or bruising
- Leaking sperm may form a lump called a granuloma, which is painless and may go away on its own or may require surgery
- Congestive epididymitis, or inflammation of the epididymis
- Recanalization, when a man’s vas deferens grow back together, leading to fertility
As vasectomy is permanent, once you receive one and your semen no longer contains sperm, you do not need to use another birth control method. It is a cheaper and safer permanent birth control than a woman getting her tubes tied. Finally, although vasectomies are expensive, they are a single cost, and are often covered by insurance. When compared to buying condoms and spermicide over time, it is actually likely the cheaper option.
A vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you and your partner are non-monogamous or one of you has a STI, use condoms when you have sex. Additionally, you must be completely sure that you do not want children in the future. While it is possible to reconnect the vas deferens, it is a difficult surgery, and it sometimes does not work. Sperm retrieval is another option, during which a doctor removes sperm from the testicle for in -vitro fertilization. However, both of these methods are expensive, often not covered by insurance, and may not work.
Other methods of male birth control are currently being researched. One such method is a reversible vasectomy, during which the vas deferens are plugged and then removed once birth control is not wanted anymore. Additionally, researchers are looking for hormonal methods that prevent sperm from being produced.
If you are interested in having a vasectomy, come into Men’s Vitality Center in Tucson. Our men’s health clinic can help you find the right method of birth control for you and your partner, whether or not it is a vasectomy. Contact us for an appointment today!