What You Need to Know If You’re Considering a Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a common and highly effective form of male birth control. How common? In the United States, approximately one out of every six men aged 35 and older has had this relatively minor surgical procedure. Here’s a general idea of how and why vasectomy works so well:

After forming in the testicles, sperm is stored in a duct (the ampulla of vas deferens) until it is needed. During sexual activity, sperm leaves the epididymis and enters a muscular tube (vas deferens). There, the sperm mixes with semen and travels to the urethra, where it flows out of the body during ejaculation. A vasectomy blocks the vas deferens, effectively keeping sperm out of the semen and thus preventing pregnancy.

Whether or not to have a vasectomy is an important—and highly personal—sexual health decision. If you are considering this procedure, here are some key factors to think about:

Vasectomy Is Reliable and Convenient

Extensive studies have confirmed that vasectomy is more than 99.99% effective in preventing pregnancy; in terms of reliability, it is second only to abstinence. Vasectomy is also a “get-it-and-forget-it” type of contraception—once the procedure is complete, there is nothing to buy, swallow, use or put in place before sexual activity. As such, it is impossible to reduce its effectiveness by using it incorrectly. And because vasectomy is permanent, there is no need to worry about using a different form of contraception in the future. For all these reasons, a vasectomy procedure can create peace of mind that can lead to more spontaneous and enjoyable intimacy.

Vasectomy Is Safe and Natural

Any sperm that is created in the testicles but not ejaculated is naturally absorbed by the body, and this process occurs regardless of whether a vasectomy has been performed. After a vasectomy procedure, the body continues to produce sperm and semen, absorb sperm and ejaculate normally. The only difference is that the semen will not contain the sperm needed for conception. And because a vasectomy procedure leaves the testicles untouched—it only alters the vas deferens—it does not affect testosterone levels, sex drive, sexual function or sexual satisfaction.

Vasectomy Involves Minimal Discomfort

A vasectomy is a relatively simple, minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Usually, it is performed in a doctor’s office or clinic and can be completed in approximately 10-30 minutes. After numbing the scrotum with a local anesthetic, the vasectomy doctor makes a tiny puncture to access, sever and seal the vas deferens. Some men feel a slight poke when the numbing agent is administered. Then, as the medication takes effect, it may cause warmth and tingling sensations in the scrotum. During the procedure itself, mild pressure or tugging may be felt.

Afterward, some pain, tenderness, swelling and bruising may develop in and around the scrotum. Usually, any discomfort is short-lived and responds well to ice pack applications and over-the-counter pain relievers. The puncture will heal on its own without stitches, although the bandage will need to be periodically changed. For about a week, it is important to avoid straining the groin area, which generally means no sexual intercourse, heavy lifting or intense physical activity. Most men return to work in 2-3 days and resume their normal daily activities within 3-7 days.

Vasectomy Is Not Immediately Effective

Vasectomy is almost always successful. Approximately three to four months after the procedure is completed, a semen sample is tested in a lab for the presence of sperm. Pending the results of the follow-up testing, it is important to use another form of birth control during sexual intercourse. That’s because some sperm may still be present upstream from the vasectomy site, and pregnancy will be possible until “the pipes have cleared.”

Vasectomy Is Intended To Be Permanent

Vasectomy is designed to be—and should always be viewed as—a permanent form of birth control. With that said, it is possible to reverse the procedure in some cases. Even so, a man should not have a vasectomy if there is even the slightest chance that he will want to have children in the future.

Of course, life is dynamic; relationships can change, and desires can change as new relationships form. This may cause a man to regret his earlier decision to have a vasectomy and seek to have it reversed. When performing a vasectomy reversal procedure, the surgeon attempts to reconnect the severed ends of the vas deferens and recreate the pathway for sperm to reach the semen. In general, the likelihood of a successful vasectomy reversal decreases with time.

Vasectomy Is Usually Covered by Insurance

Of course, the cost of an elective medical procedure is always an important factor to consider when deciding if it is right for you. Most health insurance plans cover vasectomies and the follow-up semen analysis performed to confirm that the procedure worked as expected. It is also notable that a man’s vasectomy is far less expensive than a woman’s tubal ligation, even though both procedures produce comparable results in terms of reliability.

What Type of Doctor Should You See for a Vasectomy?

There are many nuances when it comes to performing an effective vasectomy procedure. Therefore, it is important to choose an experienced vasectomy doctor such as a urologist, who is a trained surgeon with expert knowledge of the male reproductive system. Some urologists have performed thousands of vasectomies and are well-versed in the latest surgical techniques, allowing them to tailor the procedure to each patient’s unique anatomy and preferences.

Schedule an Appointment With an Experienced Vasectomy Doctor

If you are considering a vasectomy, you probably have questions. For reliable answers, contact Florida Medical Clinic at 813-979-7733 to schedule a urology consultation at one of our convenient locations: Watergrass at 7760 Curley Road, Wiregrass at 2352 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., or North Tampa at 14547 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Or, you can conveniently schedule an appointment online.

About Brent C. Sullivan, MD

Dr. Sullivan is a urologist who specializes in sexual dysfunction, vasectomy and minimally invasive robotic surgery. Born and raised in Jamaica, he attended medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, NJ, where he also completed residencies in general surgery and urology and a fellowship in neurourology.

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