A vasectomy is…
Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that is permanent form of birth control for men. In the U.S., about 20% of men over 35 years of age have had the procedure.
Vasectomy is safer, less expensive, and just as effective as a tubal ligation (getting the "tubes tied") in women.
How effective is a vasectomy in preventing pregnancy?
Vasectomy is a successful procedure in more than 99% of cases. However, immediately following the procedure, a second method of birth control is needed until testing confirms no sperm remain in the semen.
About 3 months after a vasectomy, man's sperm count is checked to confirm that there are no sperm left in the ejaculate. A man needs to ejaculate at least 20 times following the procedure to clear the remaining sperm before the follow-up sperm count check.
How does a vasectomy work?
Sperm are produced in the testicles and then move into the epididymis, where they mature and are stored. The vas deferens are long, thin tubes that transport sperm from the epididymis and expel them through the penis during ejaculation.
The vas deferens is cut or sealed in a vasectomy, preventing sperm from being released in ejaculate.
How long does a vasectomy take?
A vasectomy is a common procedure that takes about 30 minutes. The procedure is usually done in a doctor's office.
- A local anesthetic is injected into the skin of the scrotum
- A small incision is made to access the vas deferens
- A loop of the vas deferens is brought to the surface and a small segment is removed
- Each vas deferens is either cauterized, tied off, or clipped
- Depending on the surgical technique, sutures may be required
Reasons to have a vasectomy include…
Vasectomy is a good option for men who want the following from birth control:
- Is permanent
- Does not involve any preparation before or during sex
- Has a high success rate
- Has a low risk of complications
- No desire for other biological children
A vasectomy is always reversible.
A vasectomy can be reversed in some cases, but it is not always successful. It should be considered a permanent method of birth control.
Vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) is a procedure used to reconnect the vas deferens. The longer the time that has passed between the vasectomy and the reversal, the less successful the reversal is likely to be. It is estimated that about 76% of vasovasostomies can result in pregnancy when performed three years or less after vasectomy, but only 30% of vasovasostomies result in pregnancy if the vasectomy was performed more than 15 years prior to the reversal.
In addition, about 40% of men will develop sperm antibodies after a vasectomy. The antibodies are not harmful but can cause sperm cells to be less effective if a vasectomy is reversed.
A vasectomy will affect a man's sex drive.
A vasectomy will not impact a man's sex drive or his ability to have an erection because it does not affect testosterone levels.
What are complications of vasectomy?
Complications of vasectomy are uncommon but may include:
- Bleeding, which occurs in less than 5% of men who undergo the procedure and usually occurs within the first 48 hours
- Infection occurs in up to 4% of men who have the procedure and can usually be treated with antibiotics
- A condition called post-vasectomy pain syndrome can occur in between 2% to 15% of men who have a vasectomy and usually can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) and warm baths
- Sperm granuloma, which is a small mass or lump, occurs in 15% to 40% of men following a vasectomy and is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
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UpToDate.com. Patient education: Vasectomy (Beyond the Basics).
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