Vasectomy: Effective Male Contraception
Vasectomy is a permanent method of male contraception that involves disrupting the vas deferens. The procedure prevents sperm from mixing with semen from being ejaculated, thereby preventing pregnancy. The testicles continue to produce sperm after vasectomy, but rather than being ejaculated, it is absorbed.
Vasectomy is an effective method of preventing pregnancy. According to the Urology Care Foundation, vasectomy is better than any other form of birth control except abstinence. Only 0.1 to 0.2 percent of women will get pregnant in the year after their partner has a vasectomy.
The Vasectomy Procedure
Vasectomy is usually performed in a urologist’s office and takes about 10-20 minutes. The patient is given a local anesthetic and sometimes a mild sedative.
At Foothills Urology, we perform a no scalpel vasectomy procedure. Rather than using a scalpel, this option utilizes a small clamp that is poked through the skin of the scrotum and then opened to allow the physician to clip and seal the vas deferens. This type of vasectomy is becoming more common due to fewer complications than the incision technique.
After a vasectomy, patients may experience swelling and mild discomfort for a few days. It is recommended that patients rest and use ice packs to relieve discomfort. Your urologist will prescribe an analgesic. Post-surgery, patients frequently experience:
- Blood in the semen for several ejaculations after the procedure
- Mild swelling, bruising or discoloration of the scrotum
Most vasectomy patients return to work within 1-2 days after the procedure. It is recommended that patients avoid heavy lifting for one week after the surgery, depending on the physician’s recommendation.
Preparing for the Procedure
Your physician will ask you to stop taking blood thinning medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and warfarin (Coumadin and related medications) two weeks before the procedure. You will to bring an athletic supporter to provide support after the procedure. Your urologist will provide additional instructions prior to surgery.
Vasectomy is a highly effective method of contraception; however, it is not effective immediately after the procedure, so other forms of birth control should be used until a zero sperm count is confirmed (usually several months after the procedure). Vasectomy also does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so condoms should be used as appropriate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vasectomy
How much pain will I experience during the vasectomy and during recovery?
Compared to many surgical procedures, the pain during recovery from a vasectomy is relatively mild. A local anesthetic and possibly a sedative will be used during the procedure. As the anesthetic begins to wear off and continuing through recovery, patients may feel swollen or bruised. Patients often report tenderness or an achy feeling for a few days up to a few weeks following the procedure. Your physician may prescribe a pain reliever and recommend using an ice pack to relieve discomfort. Talk with your physician about when you can resume physical activity after a vasectomy.
How long do I have to wait after a vasectomy before having sex?
Many men can resume sex within a week after vasectomy; your urologist will talk with you about this. A vasectomy is not effective immediately after the procedure. It can take up to three months and 15-20 ejaculations before sperm is completely cleared from the vas deferens. You will need to use another form of contraception until a sample shows that you’ve achieved a zero sperm count.
Will a vasectomy reduce my sex drive?
You shouldn’t notice any changes in your libido after a vasectomy, though your urologist will probably recommend you abstain from sex up to a week after surgery.
What are the chances a vasectomy will fail?
According to Healthline, less than one percent of vasectomies fail. In very rare cases, the vas deferens can regrow. Because it can take up to three months for sperm to clear from the vas deferens, it is recommended that patients continue to use other forms of contraception during this period.
Can a vasectomy be reversed?
Vasectomy reversal involves reconnecting the disconnected section of the vas deferens with a microsurgical procedure. There are several types of procedures that might be used, depending on whether there is sperm in the vasal fluid. Many vasectomies can be reversed, however, reversal has a greater chance of success if it is performed within three to ten years after the vasectomy.
Am I too young to have a vasectomy?
Younger men should carefully consider whether they’ll want to have children (or more children) before deciding to have the procedure. While vasectomy can be reversed, the reversal procedure is not always successful. Therefore, vasectomy should be considered a permanent form of contraception.
Is vasectomy covered by insurance?
Most health plans cover the cost of vasectomy, but as with most procedures, it is best to verify coverage by calling your insurer. The cost of vasectomy is usually quite a bit less than tubal ligation or other sterilization procedures for women. Vasectomy reversal is usually not covered by insurance.