A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control for men that involves cutting or clipping the vas deferens. These are the tubes that carry the sperm from the testicle.
It is usually performed in a doctor's office or clinic. It involves making one or two punctures on the scrotum. The vas deferens are then clipped and/or cut.
The procedure uses local anesthetic (numbing medicine). Your doctor may prescribe some medicine to calm you as well. There may be a stinging feeling when the numbing shot is given, some pressure in the groin and a tugging sensation on the testicle as well. There should be minimal pain with the procedure. After the procedure most patients experience a little discomfort. You will be given a prescription for pain medicine afterwards.
If you desire a permanent form of birth control then a vasectomy may be right for your or your partner. It is 99.8 % effective. It relieves you and your partner of the worry of unintended pregnancy and over time may be more cost effective than non-permanent forms of birth control such as condoms, IUD's, spermicidal foams or inserts.
There may be a little discomfort after the procedure for several days. There may be some swelling and bruising as well.
You can resume sexual activity after 1 week but you must use some form of birth control until your doctor say it is safe to stop.
In general it is a very safe procedure but there are risks. Risks include, but are not limited to, bleeding complications, failure and unintended pregnancy, pain that may persist, a small nodule in the scrotum called a sperm granuloma and infection.
The other form of permanent form of birth control is a tubal ligation for the woman. This procedure is riskier and more expensive than a vasectomy. Other forms of birth control include intrauterine devices (IUD) for women, Essure, oral contraceptives, condoms, spermicidal foams, gels, sponges and diaphragms. Methods such as timing and abstinence are also considered birth control.
Generally it takes about 10 minutes although you may be in the office longer.
There are no known or proven long term health risks. There were some early reports of a link between prostate cancer and men who had vasectomies but this has been disproven.
A vasectomy will not affect your sexual function. It will not change your ability to have an erection, achieve an orgasm or your ejaculation. Testosterone, responsible for "sex drive," is not affected by vasectomy. Some men and their partners report an improvement in their sex lives after vasectomy because the fear of an unwanted pregnancy is removed.
It is technically possible to reverse a vasectomy with a procedure called a vasovasostomy. This reversal procedure is not always effective, requires surgery and insurance does not always pay for the procedure. You should consider vasectomy permanent.
You can return to work and your usual activities 2 days after a vasectomy. During the first 48 hours after your procedure you are encouraged to do nothing strenuous and lift nothing greater than 5 pounds.
The risk of a pregnancy after a vasectomy is low; about 1 in 2000. Immediately after your vasectomy you are still fertile and must use some other form of birth control until your doctor says it is safe to stop. There are some rare cases in which the vas deferens recanalizes and the procedure may fail years after the vasectomy.
The testicles continue to produce sperm but they are reabsorbed by the body. The actual sperm are only a small part of the volume of the ejaculate.
In most cases insurance covers the procedure but it depends on your particular policy. You may be responsible for a copay or out out-of-pocket deductible.