Approximately 500,000 vasectomies are performed each year in the United States.
A process sometimes referred to as male sterilization, a vasectomy is usually performed when a man does not wish to be capable of producing children. Despite lingering misconceptions suggesting otherwise, the procedure does not prevent a man from having an ejaculation, erection, or orgasm.
A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control that simply stops sperm from leaving the testes.
Birth control is the most common reason why men have a vasectomy. It’s a fairly basic type of surgery that usually does not affect a man’s sex life. It’s also safer and less expensive that the female alternative, a tubal ligation. Semen volumes usually remain unchanged. If there is a decrease, it’s often minimal. While a urologist may be able to successfully reverse the procedure, this isn’t always recommended. For this reason, couples may wish to consider whether or not they plan to conceive in the future before going ahead with the surgery.
During a traditional vasectomy, a small incision is made into the top part of the scrotum by the penis. After the scrotum is shaved and cleaned, a local anesthetic is applied to decrease sensation and improve comfort. The vas deferens, a tube that carries sperm to the ejaculatory duct, is cut, tied, blocked, or sealed with heat to prevent sperm from being transported during ejaculation. The process is repeated with the other vas deferens. A small part of these tubes may also be removed. Stitches are then used to close the surgical site.
With a no-incision vasectomy, small holes are used to perform the procedure instead of cuts. There’s also no need for stitches. Special forceps are used to stretch the skin to create the hole needed to reach the vas deferens. It is then removed and cut, treated with heat, or sutured before being placed back into its proper location. The same process is used for the other side. Benefits associated with type of vasectomy include:
Less time to complete the procedure
Minimal post-operative discomfort
Reduced risk of bleeding and infection
Risks and Preparations
Risks associated with vasectomies are generally considered minimal. Some patients may experience bruising or swelling. If an incision is made, there is a slight risk of infection, although this can be minimized with proper post-surgery care. There’s older research suggesting a link between vasectomies and prostate cancer. However, subsequent research has not supported these findings. Preparations for a vasectomy typically involve:
Bringing tight-fitting underwear or an athletic supporter to wear after the procedure to reduce swelling
Avoiding certain medications that may increase the risk of bleeding
Making arrangements for transportation home after the procedure
Birth control still needs to be used following the procedure until post-vasectomy tests show that semen is free of sperm. In order to remove excess sperm that may still be in tubes and ducts, men are asked to have 10-20 ejaculations prior to having a test to determine if all traces of sperm are gone.
Prior to the procedure, a urologist can discuss surgical options and answer questions. Following a vasectomy, patients are advised to rest for a few days to allow the vas deferens to heal. If discomfort continues beyond a day or two, pain medications or anti-inflammatory medications may provide relief. Vasectomies are considered nearly 100 percent effective.