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April 24, 2017 | Urology
Many forms of birth control exist for both men and women, and one of the most effective and permanent is called a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a procedure for males that stops the release of sperm during ejaculation, which prevents fertilization of the female egg.
Because of the permanence of the procedure and some of the risks involved, getting a vasectomy is a big decision for any man. Here’s what you need to know to help you make the decision if the time comes.
A vasectomy is typically chosen by men or couples who have had issues with other forms of birth control, or who desire a more permanent solution. Its permanent nature means that this procedure is for people who are 100 percent certain they do not want to have children at any point in the future.
The vasectomy procedure follows a few basic steps:
The entire procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes in most cases. There are forms of vasectomy where no incision is used to enter the scrotum, which is accessed instead using a clamp to poke through the skin of the scrotum—these are called no-scalpel vasectomies. They are just as effective as normal vasectomies for people who choose them, and can reduce risks like bleeding, infection and bruising.
You should expect numbness in the scrotum for a couple hours after surgery, along with swelling and minor pain for a few days. Cold packs, snug clothing and lying on your back as often as possible can help reduce pain and swelling. Avoid heavy lifting for a week or more; if heavy lifting isn’t part of your job, you can return to work in one or two days.
It’s important to remember that your ability to get your partner pregnant does not go away immediately after the vasectomy. It often takes several months for all the remaining sperm in the body to be ejaculated or reabsorbed, and using another form of birth control to prevent pregnancy is required until this sperm count is at zero. This is determined using a sample of semen, which can be tested for sperm count. Only when this count is zero can you stop using other forms of birth control.
This sperm count test, along with a basic examination, is generally advised a couple months after the vasectomy. Home tests are also available for sperm count.
A vasectomy will not interrupt your body’s sex drive or its ability to get an erection, have an orgasm or ejaculate.
There are a few risks involved with vasectomies. The success rate for birth control through this method is 99.85 percent, but there are two unlikely outcomes that could lead to a pregnancy after a vasectomy:
The risk of complications with vasectomies is quite low, but these rare complications include:
Vasectomy is a big choice in life, and you need to consider all your options. Speak with your partner about the advantages and disadvantages, and remember that vasectomies do not prevent STDs or other conditions—only pregnancy.
If you arrive at the conclusion with your partner that vasectomy is the right choice, be sure to also speak to your doctor and make sure the procedure is safe and right for you.
“Vasectomy.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-14387
“Vasectomy.” Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/vasectomy
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.