Vasectomy at a glance
- A vasectomy is a form of male sterilization that effectively prevents pregnancy.
- During a vasectomy, a surgeon cuts a man’s vas deferens tube that transports sperm to the prostate, preventing it from reaching a man’s semen and rendering him infertile.
- Urology Associates often utilizes a no-scalpel vasectomy that results in little bleeding, no stitches, less pain and fewer complications.
- Although generally considered a form of permanent sterilization, a vasectomy can often be reversed.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that renders a man infertile, effectively preventing him from causing a pregnancy. It is a form of male sterilization in which a surgeon cuts or ties off the vas deferens, the sperm transport tube that connects the testes with the urethra, located on each side of the scrotum. Sperm normally travels through the vas deferens to the urethra where it blends with the semen that is ejaculated at sexual climax. The vasectomy prohibits the sperm from mixing with semen which means the man cannot get his partner pregnant.
Vasectomies are an effective form or birth control. Research shows only about 1 to 2 of 1,000 women will get pregnant in the year following the vasectomy surgery. It is the most common form of male sterilization, with more than 500,000 procedures performed per year in this country.
A vasectomy does not affect how the testicles make the male hormone testosterone. The testes still produce sperm, but the sperm die and are absorbed into the body. Also, since the testicles produce only 5-10 percent of the ejaculate volume, the semen volume will appear the same.
A vasectomy is usually performed in the office of urologist, a doctor who specializes in the male reproductive system and urinary tract. There are two methods used to access the vas deferens to cut it: the traditional way is to make small cuts in the scrotum, and the no-scalpel method involves a small puncture hole made on one side of the scrotum. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and typically only takes about 10 to 20 minutes.
Risks, benefits and other considerations for a vasectomy
Vasectomy in general is safe and simple. Vasectomy is an operation and all surgery has some risk such as bleeding, infection and pain, but serious problems are unusual. These side effects will typically resolve themselves in less than two weeks.
After the vasectomy, patients should continue using an alternate form of birth control until there is no longer sperm in the ejaculate. Urologists will monitor and evaluate this with semen samples that are produced at home and then dropped off at Urology Associates. The goal is to have two samples with no sperm before a man may safely resume unprotected intercourse.
There is always a small chance of the tubes rejoining themselves and this is the reason that sperm checks are necessary.
A patient should discuss a vasectomy with his physician and partner to ensure it is the right choice him and his relationship prior to having the procedure.
Vasectomy is considered permanent birth control. While a vasectomy can potentially be reversed, a patient should be committed to this decision since a vasectomy reversal is a more involved procedure, usually done in a hospital.
Although preventing pregnancy, a vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Men still need to use a condom to protect themselves from STDs and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
There are other benefits to consider when thinking about a vasectomy. These include:
- A vasectomy is safer for men than a tubal ligation is for women. It is also less expensive.
- The cost of a vasectomy is typically less expensive over time when compared with other birth control methods, such as monthly birth control pills or condoms.
Finally, a vasectomy will not affect a man’s sex life or performance.