Vasectomy is definitively the most effective form of permanent birth control for men. It does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. It is a minor surgical procedure that prevents the flow of sperm between the testicle and the urethra by blocking the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm to the testicle and through the urethra to the ejaculatory duct.
A vasectomy is a procedure completed either under local sedation or general anesthesia. It is performed by the cutting and tying off of the vas deferens tubes, which are responsible for transporting sperm to the prostate for ejaculation. The testes will continue to produce sperm, but it will be absorbed back into the body soon after production and will not be present in seminal fluid. It can, however, take up to two-three months after surgery before the patient is completely sterile. This is due to sperm lingering within the various tubes of the penile anatomy and may require at least twenty ejaculations to ensure complete sterility.
The Vasectomy Procedure
A vasectomy is a quick out-patient procedure and it is usually performed in the hospital under sedation. It can in some instances be performed in the surgeon’s office under local anesthesia. The doctor makes a small incision in the upper part of the scrotum. The vas deferens (the tube that carries semen from the testicles) is then pulled through the incision and is cut and tied or clipped off. It is usually sealed by using heat (cauterizing) or surgical clips. Vasectomy surgery usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to perform.
Side Effects of a Vasectomy
A vasectomy has few side effects. Patients may experience the following after a vasectomy:
- Sore and swollen scrotal area
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Bleeding at incision site or hematoma
Complications of a Vasectomy
Risks of a vasectomy are minimal but does include bleeding, blood clots, and infection. It is also possible for sperm to leak out into the tissue of the scrotum after surgery. They are usually attacked by the patient’s own immune system and may cause a small lump called a sperm granuloma. This is usually self-resolving, but in some cases may persist and on rare occasions may need to be surgically removed. In rare cases, some men develop chronic pain syndrome after a vasectomy.
Recovery from a Vasectomy
The scrotum should be supported with gauze and tight fitting underwear for at least 2 days after the vasectomy. Ice packs can also be applied frequently to the scrotum to help alleviate any swelling. If employed at a desk job, the patient can usually return to work within a few days after the vasectomy. You may need to ice when you return home. Physical labor jobs require a longer period of time before the patient can return to work.
Sexual activity can be resumed within about a week, but it is important to note that the vasectomy is not effective immediately, and it is recommended and alternative form of birth control is used initially. A follow-up semen analysis is recommended after 6-8 weeks to ensure sterility. Patients should not assume that their vasectomy is effective until the semen analysis indicates the absence of sperm. The libido of most men is unaffected by surgery.