While a vasectomy is an extremely simple, safe and effective procedure, the idea of one is scary to most men. The decision to have a vasectomy is an important one, especially in regards to future family planning.
If you are thinking of getting a vasectomy, here are some questions to ask before making a decision.
Questions To Have Answered By A Urologist Before A Vasectomy
1. What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a safe and effective procedure that prevents sperm from exiting the penis during ejaculation. This happens by cutting the vas deferens (the long, thin tubes carrying semen that run from the scrotum to the urethra). Simply put, a vasectomy makes a man intentionally sterile, or unable to have children.
2. How invasive is the procedure?
A vasectomy is a minimally invasive procedure. Two small holes will be cut into the testicles to reach the vas deferens, which will then be blocked off and replaced—that’s it! The best part is the whole procedure usually takes around 30 minutes, so you’ll be on your way home in no time.
3. How successful is a vasectomy procedure?
A vasectomy procedure is almost 100% effective at preventing pregnancy and has a very low risk of postoperative complications. It is one of the best birth control options out there, and one of the cheapest in comparison to procedures like female sterilization.
However, a vasectomy isn’t effective right away—you will need a few months to make sure there is no semen count remaining in ejaculation.
4. Is a vasectomy permanent?
A vasectomy should always be considered permanent. Men who are considering a vasectomy should be sure in their decision to not want more biological children.
While there is a procedure that can reverse a vasectomy, called a vasovasostomy, you should avoid receiving a vasectomy with a potential reversal in mind. Vasectomies are intended to be permanent, and it’s never guaranteed that a vasovasostomy will be successful in regards to pregnancy.
Sometimes unexpected life events result in the decision to reverse a vasectomy, and if you find yourself in that situation, we can help.
Sperm banking (storing collected sperm) is another option some men consider before having a vasectomy, in case they decide to have kids in the future but don’t want to have a vasovasostomy. However, sperm banking can be expensive, so talk with your partner before making a decision.
5. What happens during the procedure?
After undressing and lying down on the table, the doctor will begin by injecting local anesthetic into the scrotum, so you won’t experience any pain.
Once the area is completely numb, the surgeon will make two small cuts into the scrotum, and find the vas deferens. After the vas deferens are identified, they will be lifted through the incision site. Then, the doctor will simply cut and remove part of the tubes.
Finally, the tubes are cauterized and clipped off. Not so bad, right? The small incisions will heal on their own, usually not requiring any additional stitches.
6. Will a vasectomy alter my testosterone levels?
Not at all! You will be the same man you were before the procedure—just with no sperm. Some men worry that a vasectomy will make them weak, gain weight, lose hair or decrease their sexual drive. A vasectomy in no way alters your testosterone levels, so there’s no need to worry about losing your “manhood”. Some men even enjoy sex more after a vasectomy, since there is no longer a need to worry about unintentional pregnancies or birth control.
7. What should I do before getting a vasectomy?
To prepare for a vasectomy, refrain from taking medicines like aspirin, or any prescribed blood-thinning medications, for at least one week prior to the procedure.
On the day of the procedure, make sure to shower and thoroughly clean the scrotum. The scrotum will need to be shaved before the procedure, and sometimes immediately after. We also recommend patients eat a full, normal breakfast prior to the vasectomy.
8. How much downtime will I need?
You will be sore after your vasectomy, so we recommend taking a few days to rest and recover. Most men prefer to have the procedure later in the week, so that they can use the weekend to rest and not miss work. To aide the healing process, try applying an ice pack intermittently to reduce swelling and don’t bathe or swim for 24 to 48 hours after surgery. After two or three days, you should be back to normal.
Interestingly enough, a majority of men decide to have a vasectomy before March Madness. Recovering from a vasectomy doesn’t seem so bad when you have the NCAA tournament to watch, right?
9. How long after the procedure can I have unprotected sex?
Usually around a week after the procedure, you will be able to return to your normal, protected sexual activity. While you can start having sex again, using another form of birth control for the first two to three months after surgery is crucial to preventing pregnancy.
You will still have some sperm in your system that hasn’t died off yet, so unprotected sex could result in an unexpected pregnancy. On average, a man must ejaculate 20 times before all of the sperm is either out of his system, or has been safely absorbed by his body.
Please note: To be safe, do not practice unprotected sex until your doctor has confirmed a sperm count of zero.
10. Will I need to return for a check-up?
In order to check your sperm count, you will need to revisit your doctor’s office around two to three months after your procedure to have a sperm analysis.
You will need to provide a semen sample. The doctor will then examine the specimen under a microscope. After examining the semen, your doctor will be able to confirm that your sperm count is at zero.
Most importantly, ask yourself:
Are you ready to get a vasectomy? If you know you don’t want any more biological children, the choice to have a vasectomy is one of the best birth control decisions you could make. Vasectomies are safe, quick, efficient and permanent, so make sure this is the right choice for you and your partner.
At Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we specialize in male vasectomies, as well as many other men’s health procedures. If you have more questions about vasectomies, or want more tips for maintaining your health, download our Men’s Health Guide!