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Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure in which the vas deferens, thin tubes that store and transport sperm, is cut and sealed so that the sperm can no longer enter into the body through the vas. It is a permanent method of birth control in men and prevents the release of sperm when a man ejaculates.

Before getting a vasectomy, however, you need to be certain you don't want to father a child in the future. Vasectomy is considered a permanent form of male birth control.

Procedure

Doctors prefer to use the no-scalpel technique to perform a vasectomy. It is a technique that uses a small sharp clamp rather than a scalpel to puncture the scrotum skin. The clamp is poked through the skin of the scrotum and then opened, the wound is very small and leaves no detectable scar after healing. This technique reduces bleeding, infection, and pain, and no stitches are needed.

The vas is then identified on both sides. A section of the vas deferens is removed and both ends of the vas are tied and diathermy. The two ends of the vas are buried in separate fascial compartments to prevent them from joining together again.

The vasectomy can be performed under local anesthetics or general anesthetics depending on patient preferences. Sometimes, the surgeon will recommend general anesthesia as the vas is thickened or difficult to find on examination.

Recovery after Surgery

Swelling and minor pain may be felt in the scrotum for several days after the vasectomy. Complications that might occur after a vasectomy include bleeding under the skin, infection at the site of incision, sperm leaking from a vas deferens and forming a small lump called sperm granuloma, and chronic pain. In rare circumstances, the vas deferens can regrow or re-canalize.

Pain can be present after vasectomy in up to 10% of patients initially, possibly due to back pressure from sperm build up. This usually resolves after 4 weeks. It is rare but possible to have chronic pain in the long-term after vasectomy. In these patients, a vasectomy reversal may be required.

Following a vasectomy, you will have some bruising, swelling and pain. It usually gets better within a few days. Apart from this, you should:

  • Avoid lifting of heavy objects for a week    
  • Wear snug underwear to support the scrotum
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid sexual activity for one week

After a vasectomy, it usually takes several months for all remaining sperm stored in the seminal vesicles to ejaculate or reabsorb. Alternative methods of birth control must be used until a semen sample test shows a zero sperm count. Semen test is usually performed at 8-12 weeks following vasectomy.

Advantages

  • Vasectomy is a safe and effective birth control choice for men who are certain they don't want to father a child.
  • Vasectomy is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Vasectomy is an outpatient surgery with a low risk of complications or side effects.
  • The cost of a vasectomy is far less than the cost of female sterilization (tubal ligation) or the long-term cost of birth control medications for women.
  • You won't need to take birth control steps before sex, such as putting on a condom.

Disadvantages

Vasectomy offers no protection from sexually transmitted infections.