What Is A Vasectomy?
A vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control. A vasectomy prevents the release of sperm when a man ejaculates. Generally, vasectomy leaves the patient unchanged except that the vas deferens—the tubes leading to the testes—are blocked. The testes still produce sperm, but the sperm die and are absorbed by the body. The level of testosterone remains the same and all male sexual characteristics remain the same. It usually takes several months after a vasectomy for all remaining sperm to be ejaculated or reabsorbed
How Common Are Vasectomies?
Approximately half a million vasectomies are performed in the United States each year. Nearly one out of six men over age 35 has had a vasectomy.
How Does A Vasectomy Work?
Although there are several techniques for performing vasectomy, the most common are variations on the no-scalpel technique. Each vas is grasped in such a way as to bring it to the surface of the skin. This may be done on both sides of the scrotum or both may vas may be brought to the same position so there is one incision. Your comfort is a high priority with us and we have developed several techniques to ensure that the vasectomy is neither scary nor painful.
During the procedure, the two vas deferens are cut and sealed off. This prevents sperm from traveling from the testes to the penis. It is the only change in your reproductive system. The testes will still produce sperm, but since the sperm have nowhere to go, they die and are absorbed by your body. Your semen will not appear different following a vasectomy, as sperm are only a small portion of the ejaculate.
How Successful Are Vasectomies?
Vasectomy works very well, with an unwanted pregnancy rate well below 1%. However, some points are important to remember.
- The vas (where sperm are transported) is a very long tube. It requires time and ejaculations (at least 30) to clear the vas. The vasectomy does NOT work immediately. We CANNOT consider you sterile until you have two negative semen analyses (no sperm seen). These are typically done six and eight weeks after the procedure. If there are still sperm present, you may need to give additional samples.
- Although vasectomy is reversible, the reversal is expensive. It is a bad idea to have a vasectomy if there is any thought that you might want to have additional children.
Is A Vasectomy Covered By Insurance?
Most health insurances cover full or partial vasectomy costs. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to see if a vasectomy covered.
Sex After Vasectomy
A vasectomy shouldn’t affect your relationship with your partner. You can resume sexual intercourse as soon as you are comfortable, usually in about a week. However, you can still get your partner pregnant until your sperm count is zero. You must use another method of birth control until you have a follow-up sperm count test 6 weeks after the vasectomy (or after 30 ejaculations). Once your sperm count is zero, no other birth control method is necessary. A vasectomy will not interfere with your sex drive, ability to have erections, sensation of orgasm, or ability to ejaculate. You may have occasional mild aching in your testicles during sexual arousal for a few months after the surgery.
Risks & Possible Complications Of Vasectomy
Vasectomy is safe, but it does have risks. They include the following:
- Bleeding under the skin, which may cause swelling or bruising.
- Infection at the site of the incision. In rare instances, an infection develops inside the scrotum.
- Sperm granuloma. This is a small, harmless lump. It may form where the vas deferens is sealed off.
- Sperm buildup (congestion). This may cause soreness in the testes. Anti-inflammatory medications can provide relief.
- This is inflammation that may cause scrotal aching. It often goes away without treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications can provide relief.
- Reconnection of the vas deferens. This can occur in rare cases. It makes you fertile again. This can result in an unwanted pregnancy.
- Sperm antibodies. These are a common response of the body to absorbed sperm. The antibodies can make you sterile. This is true even if you later try to reverse your vasectomy.
- Long-term testicular discomfort. This may occur after surgery. But it’s very rare.
- Some older studies showed a risk of prostate cancer in men who have had vasectomies. However, many years of research have found no clear evidence that vasectomy is linked to prostate cancer.