For couples contemplating a vasectomy as a form of permanent birth control, it is important to discuss all of the factors with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not the procedure is right for you. (photo courtesy of Mike Baird, Creative Commons, Flickr)
as they are faced with a very important decision–whether or not to have a vasectomy.
So consider this: You are at a point in your life where you have healthy children, they are out of diapers, perhaps already in elementary school; life is normal and calm. Your wife uses birth control but wishes to stop using her current contraception method. It is an important time that many men and women will ultimately face—whether or not the man wishes to move forward and have a vasectomy. While it can be a tough, and sometimes an emotional choice for both the man and the woman, it is an effective and very common choice made by thousands of married couples each year. The more a couple knows about the vasectomy procedure and the effects of vasectomy, the more at ease they will become during the process.
Dr. Mark Allen, MD, a urologist who practices in the Plano, Frisco and Richardson, Texas areas, offers the following answers to some of the most common questions relating to a vasectomy.
What is a Vasectomy Procedure?
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that provides a man with permanent fertility control; it has been successfully used for a number of years and has become one of the most common urological procedures in the U.S. with more than 500,000 vasectomies performed each year. During the in-office, short procedure, the tube (known as the vas deferens) leading from each testicle is cut and sealed off. By sealing the vas deferens, sperm can no longer reach the prostate where it would normally mix with semen and potentially cause a pregnancy in his female partner.
Common Reasons to have a Vasectomy
- You want to enjoy sex without the worry of becoming pregnant
- You are done having children and/or do not wish for anymore
- Your partner has health issues that make pregnancy risky
- You and your partner do not wish to use standard birth control
- You want to save your partner the more extensive surgery involved in tubal ligation, as well as the extra expense
How Effective is a Vasectomy in Preventing Pregnancy?
A vasectomy procedure is very safe and much less expensive than female tubal ligation. Once a vasectomy has been performed, the patient must come back on more than one occasion as designated by the physician so that a semen analysis can be performed. These tests will determine the amount of sperm contained in the semen after the procedure. It may take a dozen or more ejaculations and up to two months before the semen is sperm free. Once the sperm is nonexistent in the semen—which is the point and overall result of a vasectomy—then fertilization and pregnancy cannot occur. According to WebMD, a vasectomy is a very effective allowing for a very high—99.85%–birth control effective rate.
Does a Vasectomy Change Sexual Intercourse for a Man?
No. After the vasectomy procedure is performed, and all of the necessary steps have been taken to ensure sterilization, a man will continue to have normal intercourse and will climax and reach orgasm just as before. The ejaculation that follows the orgasm will also look and feel normal. The only difference is that his semen will not contain sperm and he cannot father a child following a vasectomy.
Will a Vasectomy Change a Man’s Hormone Structure?
No. There are no effects of vasectomy that change hormone structure. Even though a vasectomy will block the delivery of sperm, it will not and does not change hormone structure. This means that the secondary sex characteristics of a man such as facial hair, sex drive, libido, ability to have an erection and ability to climax and orgasm will not change after a vasectomy procedure.
Where Does the Sperm Go?
How do the effects of vasectomy handle the sperm? Most men will ask this question at some point during the vasectomy process. The truth is that the body simply absorbs unused sperm cells. After the procedure, while the testicals will continue to produce sperm, they will not be able to travel through the vas deferens and thus cannot leave the body in the semen. The body will naturally absorb sperm and there will be no side effects to the man.
The latest advancement in vasectomy procedures is the “No-Scalpel” vasectomy technique. In the traditional method, a scalpel is used to cut through the scrotum using incisions to cut the vas deferens. Sutures would then be used to close the incision site. Many doctors—as well as patients—favor and prefer the No-Scalpel method because unlike the traditional approach, a scalpel is not required and only one or two tiny punctures is made in the skin.
How Long Does the No-Scalpel Procedure and Recovery Take?
The No-Scalpel vasectomy procedure is performed in-office, with a local anesthetic, and most often only takes about 15-20 minutes. The procedure causes less discomfort than a traditional vasectomy and also allows for a shorter recovery time. The procedure is likely to produce slight discomfort, tenderness, and mild swelling in the first two or three days afterwards; the patient should rest and lay down vertically for the first couple of days to eliminate additional swelling and pain. Most patients will return to all usual activities within a week.
How Effective is a No-Scalpel Vasectomy?
A No-Scalpel vasectomy is equally effective as a traditional vasectomy. Both vasectomy methods rank among the highest procedures for protection from pregnancy.
Is a No-Scalpel Vasectomy Expensive?
The No-Scalpel vasectomy procedure can run anywhere from $500 to $1,300—however, many insurance programs will cover this cost. In some instances, all that might be required is a simple co-pay. Be sure to ask your insurance provider what costs are covered for a traditional vasectomy as well as a No-Scalpel vasectomy. It is important to note that the cost for a vasectomy is much less expensive than tubal ligation, which is the female sterilization method.
Can a Vasectomy be Reversed?
While procedures and surgeries do exist (vasovasostomy) to attempt to reverse a vasectomy, a successful reversal cannot always be guaranteed. Therefore, when a man considers a vasectomy as a method of sterilization and birth control, he should consider it a permanent move.
So, When Considering a Vasectomy, Remember:
- Talk to your friends, discuss the procedure with your doctor and do your research. The more informed you are, the more comfortable you will be with the process.
- A vasectomy is a simple, safe procedure with very low risks and complications; there are limited side effects of vasectomy, while at the same time, it is a very effective procedure.
- Vasectomies are performed every single day in just about every urologist office in the U.S. Most urologists perform several of these procedures in a single day.
- Results (complete sterilization) are not immediate; testing and additional analysis must be conducted and it may be weeks before sterility is complete.
- The No-Scalpel method is the preferred vasectomy method today.
- A Vasectomy does not change sex drive; the ability to perform or enjoy sex and it does not interfere with hormonal activity within the body.
- There is no guarantee that a vasectomy can be reversed later; a vasectomy should be considered permanent.
For more information on the vasectomy process, please contact Dr. Mark Allen, Plano, Texas Urologist, at 972.612.8037.