If you’re a man who is considering options for birth control, a vasectomy is one of the safest, easiest, and most effective birth-control methods available for you. Many men have been miseducated about vasectomies, and therefore have uncertainties, resistance, and misconceptions about the procedure.
While it’s completely safe and usually reversible, it’s important to be fully educated before deciding to get a vasectomy.
Many men opt for the procedure because they are 100 percent sure that they do not want more children. This may be because your family has enough children, or pregnancy would threaten the health of your partner, or that you or your partner have been positively tested for a gene that produces harmful birth defects.
What Is a Vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a one-time male contraception or sterilization procedure that stops the production and journey of fertile sperm, and it is over 99 percent effective. While it’s considered permanent, there is usually a possibility of reversal if desired.
In the procedure, a physician surgically cuts or blocks the tube (which is called the vas deferens) that carries sperm from the testicles to the penis. By adding this blockage, the sperm cannot reach the woman’s eggs for fertilization and pregnancy.
What to Expect in the Procedure
There are two types of vasectomies:
A conventional vasectomy takes about 20-30 minutes, and it is typically performed at an outpatient clinic. The scrotum is numbed with anesthesia, then a couple of small incisions are made with a scalpel near the base of the penis. The surgeon clips the vas deferens, and the severed ends are tied back or cauterized. The incisions are then stitched up.
In a no-scalpel vasectomy, the vas deferens tube is held in place by a small clamp. The physician makes a small puncture into the skin of the scrotum and cuts the vas deferens. With no need for stitches, this procedure has a lower risk of complications and is becoming more popular.
What to Expect in Recovery
Vasectomies are minimally invasive, with a relatively short downtime. To help reduce pain and swelling, patients may require an ice pack and painkillers.
Some men will opt to wear close-fitting underwear or a jockstrap for support. It’s recommended to wait at least a week before having sexual intercourse and to avoid heavy lifting. It’s also incredibly important to keep the genital area clean at all times to reduce the chance of an infection.
Are There Any Side Effects from a Vasectomy?
As with any procedure, there are some risks of short- and long-term side effects and potential complications. Some of the most common side effects are:
- Mild general discomfort or pain
- Temporary blood in the semen
- Bruised scrotum
- Bleeding and clotting inside the scrotum
If you experience fever, persistent or worsening swelling, difficulty urinating, a lump in the scrotum, or bleeding from the incision site, be sure to call your doctor immediately.
How Effective Is a Vasectomy?
Aside from the personal health concerns, there are other risks you should know about vasectomies. While it’s considered the most effective form of birth control, pregnancy odds are still about 1 in 2,000. This can occur due to rare “spontaneous reconnecting” or reopening of the tube.
You should also know that you’re not immediately sterile after the procedure, and your doctor will explain how to handle this timeframe. To determine whether your semen is sperm-free, see your doctor for a post-vasectomy semen analysis (PVSA) test.
Urologists in Arizona
If you are considering a vasectomy or need more information, schedule a consultation with a board-certified urologist at the Urologic Surgeons of Arizona. Call (480) 409-5060 today or fill out our online appointment request form. We’re here to help you maintain the active, healthy lifestyle you enjoy.