A vasectomy is a relatively simple, in-office, surgical procedure that stops sperm from being ejaculated during sex — thus preventing pregnancy. It is considered permanent form of birth control, even though vasectomy reversal surgery is becoming more prevalent. Think of vasectomy as the male version of tubal ligation for women.
Vasectomy is a two-part procedure:
- Locate and separate the vas deferens from the rest of the blood vessels, nerve fibers, connective tissue, and supporting structures
- Block the vas deferens so sperm can no longer travel outside the body.This is usually done with sutures or cauterization.
Vasectomies usually take 30 minutes or less to preform. At Choices in Health, we typically preform Minimally Invasive Vasectomy (MIV) at our office. Ninety-five percent of the time this involves a “no-scalpel” method that results in less trauma, pain, and post-operative complications. Patients also have fewer instances of blood clots and infections.
In addition, we offer “No-needle” local anesthetic delivery (via a hypospray injector), which reduces some patients’ anxiety about having needles “down there.”
Why Have a Vasectomy?
While vasectomy reversal surgery is becoming more available and effective (not to mention affordable), we recommend that men continue to think of a vasectomy as a permanent form of birth control.
If you are sexually active man in a heterosexual relationship with a woman capable of conception and you don’t want to have children now (or ever), then you need to be in charge of the birth control. The only birth control choices that are 100 percent effective are vasectomy and tubal ligation.
If a man is having heterosexual sex without birth control, becoming a father is a likely outcome. There is an exponential leap, however, from being a father to being a “dad.” If the responsibility of raising a child (or another child) not part of your life plans, then vasectomy is a smart option.
When men come from families with a history of certain genetic diseases and conditions that could be passed on to his children, preventing pregnancy (i.e. having a vasectomy) also makes sense.
Vasectomy reversals are expensive (up to $20,000) and they are seldom covered by health insurance. In addition, having children after a vasectomy reversal is not a sure bet. Pregnancy rates after a vasectomy reversal depend upon several factors:
- Your age
- Your partner’s age
- The presence of sperm and fluid in the man’s epididymis
- How long ago you had your vasectomy
- Whether it was modern microsurgery or “old school” open surgery
- Whether the partner you are with now is the same one you were with when you had the vasectomy
Although microsurgery techniques have made vasectomy reversals easier and more effective, and the odds of “getting pregnant” after a vasectomy reversal are improving, we recommend treating the decision to have a vasectomy as a lifelong one. Each man should take all the time he needs to make this important decision.
As with marriage, absolutely do NOT allow yourself to be pressured into taking this significant step for any reason. It’s your body, it’s your life, and it’s your future family. If making this decision isn’t right for you right now, you can always wait and have a vasectomy later. Undoing it, however, is trickier.
Men in committed, long-term relationships owe it to their partners to involve them in the decision-making process. Family issues involving future children require special care. Involving your partner in this process is important to the health of your relationship.
If the decision to have a vasectomy is too “hot” right now, give it some space to cool off so you can make a better decision — one without regrets. Talking to your partner, family, trusted friends, a birth control counselor, or a therapist usually provides new insights and perspectives, which often helps.
Vasectomy at Choices in Health
At Choices in Health, vasectomy is a brief in-office “no scalpel” procedure for 95 percent of our patients. We also provide patients with ear acupuncture to minimize the pain and discomfort of the procedure and aid in recovery. This type of acupuncture has been used in China for decades during surgeries. In addition, we routinely recommend a variety of herbal formulations to minimize post-operative pain and swelling.
Overall, our patients report minimal side effects, and generally get back to their regular routine after taking a couple of days off to recover.
Because men often change their minds about having a child (or children), we recommend they visit a local sperm bank and make a few deposits. Making a sperm bank withdrawal is much easier (and less expensive) than reversing a vasectomy.
Post-vasectomy Sexual Function
Will a vasectomy impact your sexual performance in the bedroom (or any other rooms, for that matter)? The short answer is “no.” A vasectomy will NOT reduce your testosterone levels, affect the nerves that govern getting an erection, or interfere with the blood circulation to your penis.
That said, we recommend waiting until you can ejaculate without pain (usually a week or two) before resuming sexual activity. How will you know if you can ejaculate without pain until you ejaculate? Well, let’s just say, take it out for a test ride first.
Some men experience a relatively rare condition called “post-vasectomy pain syndrome.” This uncommon side effect happens when sperm backs up in the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra), which can cause uncomfortable pressure in the testicles after ejaculation. (Sometimes it takes a while for the testicles to realize that they no longer need to supply sperm upon ejaculation.) Fortunately, this problem only occurs 5-10 percent of vasectomy cases, and usually resolves itself within a couple of months.
It usually takes 20 ejaculations for all residual sperm to be flushed out of your system. Until then, a man could potentially get a woman pregnant. That’s why it’s important to use an alternate form of birth control until a semen analysis confirms that there are no sperm in your ejaculate.
We normally wait to do a sperm count until a patient has had 20 ejaculations. Once the sperm count comes back zero, a man can have sex without concern for getting a woman pregnant.
For more information about vasectomy at Choices in Health, please contact us at 303-444-0840.