Finding a victory in vasectomy, that is the first question on every man’s lips. A vasectomy (male sterilization) is a form of contraception that involves surgically cutting or blocking the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis. When men undergo a vasectomy their sperm can no longer reach the semen, as a result any semen that is ejaculated during sex does not contain sperm – which is needed to fertilize a woman’s egg. A vasectomy is a very effective and permanent means of preventing pregnancy. It is estimated that only one out of every 2,000 men who receive a vasectomy will impregnate a woman during their lives.
Most vasectomies are only take up to 30 minutes to perform. Because the procedure is minimally invasive most men do not experience significant pain, a victory in itself. Before a vasectomy it is important to consider the consequences and fully understand that after the procedure it is nearly impossible to father any children. According to the National Institutes of Health “Vasectomy can sometimes be reversed, but not always”. You can have a vasectomy at any age. Young adults should consider carefully whether they may want to have children when they are older.
Firstly, a local anaesthetic is applied to numb the scrotum and testicles so that no pain is felt during the procedure. In most cases, the patient is awake during the operation. Only some cases involve using a general anaesthetic. Another subtle victory.
Conventional vasectomy – this method involves making two small cuts on both sides of the scrotum. These cuts allow the surgeon to go in and break off a section of the tubes that transport sperm, called the vas deferens. The vas deferens are then sealed or tied and the cuts are stitched up.
No-scalpel vasectomy – a small clamp holds the vas deferens in place and then a small hole is pierced into the skin of the scrotum and the hole is opened up to allow the surgeon to similarly cut a piece out of the vas deferens and then seal it up. This procedure is becoming increasingly more common, because of fewer complications compared to the conventional technique.
According to an article in the Indian Journal of Surgery, the real path to victory may lie in the no scalpel vasectomy, “easily performed as camp procedure in a simple medical setup. Doctors can be effectively trained hands on during the camp procedure.” Swelling and mild discomfort may last for a couple days after the procedure. It is fairly common for there to be blood in the semen for the first few ejaculations after the surgery. About a week after the surgery patients can begin to have sexual intercourse again – although the sperm count will initially be above zero. Bearing that in mind, it is highly recommended that men use an additional method of birth control during the first few months after a vasectomy to prevent pregnancy.
After two clear semen tests, it is generally safe to have intercourse without having to use secondary contraception. However, a vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so men are encouraged to use condoms with new sexual partners to avoid contracting anything. Vasectomy is a permanent method of birth control. Once your semen does not contain sperm, you do not need to worry about using other birth control methods.
Vasectomy is a safer, cheaper procedure that causes fewer complications than tubal ligation in women.1
Although vasectomy is expensive, it is a one-time cost and is often covered by medical insurance. The cost of other methods, such as birth control pills or condoms and spermicide, is likely to be greater over time. The procedure does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Condoms are the most effective method for preventing STIs. To protect yourself and your partner from STIs, use a condom every time you have sex. If you are considering a vasectomy, be absolutely certain that you will never want to father a child. This procedure is not usually recommended for men who are considering banking sperm in case they decide later to have children. Discuss other options with your partner and your health professional.
Surgery to reconnect the vas deferens (vasectomy reversal) is available. But the reversal procedure is difficult. Sometimes a doctor can remove sperm from the testicle in men who have had a vasectomy or a reversal that didn’t work. The sperm can then be used for in vitro fertilization. Both vasectomy reversal and sperm retrieval can be expensive, may not be covered by insurance, and may not always work.
Studies looking at whether having a vasectomy increases the risk of prostate cancer have had mixed results, but there may be a very small risk. This chance at victory is something to think about as you think about the possible risks and benefits of having a vasectomy. Some doctors or health insurance plans may require a waiting period from the time you request a vasectomy and the time the procedure is done. This time allows you to be certain about your decision.
Researchers of male medicine and seekers of victory alike are studying other male birth control methods, such as reversible vasectomy or hormonal methods. Reversible vasectomy involves plugging the vas deferens and then removing the plug when birth control is no longer wanted. Hormonal methods include pills or injections that the man would use to prevent sperm production. So far, no new method has been shown to be effective enough, with low side effects, to be marketed for men.