Vasectomy is a type of permanent birth control, also called male sterilization. It is a surgical procedure that cuts off the supply of sperm to the semen by cutting and sealing the vessels that carry the sperm.
While vasectomy reversals are possible in some cases, the procedure should be considered permanent. It should also be noted that while a vasectomy is a good form of permanent male birth control, it will not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
How a Vasectomy Works
A vasectomy works by cutting off the supply of sperm to the semen. The sperm is made in the testicles and then travels through tubes called the vas deferens to join with other fluids to form semen. Sperm is the part of semen that makes pregnancy possible.
During a vasectomy, the vas deferens is cut or punctured to prevent the sperm from getting into the semen. After about three months, there will be no more sperm present in the semen.
After the vasectomy, the body still produces the same amount of semen and ejaculation still takes place, it just does not contain the sperm necessary for procreation.
Vasectomy Procedure Details
Vasectomy is an out-patient procedure that usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes. Recovery time is generally a few days. The procedure will include the following steps:
- The surgical area will be numbed with a local anesthetic injected into the scrotum’s skin
- A small puncture is made in the upper scrotum once the area is numbed.
- The vas deferens is located.
- A part of the vas deference is pulled from the scrotum and divided via an incision or puncture.
- The vas deferens is sealed by cauterization, surgical clips, or suture.
- The vas deferens is then placed back inside the scrotum.
- The small opening in the scrotum is then allowed to heal, often without the need for any stitches.
Benefits of Vasectomy
While some men may be hesitant to have a surgical procedure done on their reproductive system, there are many benefits that make it the ideal option for permanent birth control.
- Vasectomy is almost 100% effective in preventing pregnancy
- Vasectomies are far more cost-effective than either female sterilization through tubal ligation or the cost of using birth control medication long-term.
- Vasectomy is a low-risk outpatient surgery with a low incidence of complications or side effects.
- Vasectomy eliminates the need to use condoms for birth control purposes (but again, vasectomy does not protect against STIs).
Risks of Vasectomy
The vasectomy procedure is usually done with no complications or negative side effects. However, there are rare risks to take into account when considering getting a vasectomy.
One risk is the possibility of later wanting to father a child. Some vasectomies can successfully be reversed, but the reversal procedure is more complex and expensive and may be ineffective.
As with any surgery, there are some side effects that can occur immediately following the procedure. These side effects should be temporary and may include:
- Mild pain or discomfort
- Scrotal bruising
- Blood in the semen
- Infection at the surgical site
- Bleeding or a blood clot inside the scrotum
Lasting or delayed complications are rare, but also possible. These complications can include:
- Chronic pain (occurs in about 1% of patients)
- Fluid in or surrounding the testicles
- A cyst that develops in a tube in the upper testicle
- In rare cases of failed vasectomy, pregnancy can occur
For More Information
The board-certified physicians at Alliance Urology Specialists provide patients state-of-the-art medical care in a caring environment. Our services including vasectomies and vasectomy reversals (link to reversal page). To schedule an appointment, call (336) 274-1114.