Each year, more than 500,000 men in the U.S. Choose vasectomy as a permanent method of birth control. This minor surgical procedure prevents pregnancy better than any other method of birth control except abstinence.

AAUrology offers all the latest approaches to vasectomy, so you can choose the approach that’s best for you. The choice to have a vasectomy is a very personal one, so talk with your partner, and think about what is best for you and your family before you make your decision.

What is Vasectomy and how is it Performed?

During vasectomy, each vas deferens (the two tubes that move sperm) is sealed off. This blocks sperm from reaching the semen that is ejaculated. After a vasectomy, the testicles still make sperm but the sperm are absorbed by the body.

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that should take about 20 minutes. Your doctor can perform a vasectomy in the office, at a surgery center, or at the hospital on an outpatient basis. Local anesthesia is usually used, so you will be awake, but should not feel any pain. If you’re anxious about the surgery, your physician can give you medication to reduce your anxiety before surgery.

With a standard vasectomy, your urologist makes one or two small incisions in the scrotum. One vas deferens tube is cut and tied or sealed with heat. The tube is replaced inside the scrotum. The procedure is then repeated on the other side. Then, the skin is closed with stitches that dissolve and do not have to be removed.

A no-scalpel vasectomy is another option although all vasectomy procedures require that a cut be made in the skin. In this procedure, a small clamp is used to puncture the skin instead of a scalpel. Then each vas deferens is lifted out, cut, sealed, and put back in place. A no-scalpel vasectomy works just as well as a standard vasectomy and there is a similar risk of bleeding, discomfort and other complications.

Healing After Surgery

Most men heal fully in less than a week. Many men are able to return to their job as early as the next day. Mild discomfort or pain is normal after a vasectomy and should be treated with pain relievers. Wearing snug underwear or a jockstrap will help ease discomfort and support the area.drawing of penis

Keep in mind that the vasectomy is not effective from day one. Sperm may still be in the semen for many months after a vasectomy. In general, it takes about three months to clear the sperm from the tubes. Your urologist will test your sperm count three months after your surgery to make sure your semen is clear of sperm. Until the sperm count is zero, you should use another method of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Side Effects

There is a possibility of some side effects after vasectomy, including:

  • Ongoing pain or discomfort due to congestion of sperm in the system behind the blockage
  • Bleeding under the skin, which may cause swelling or bruising. Call your doctor if your scrotum swells a lot soon after your surgery.
  • Infection at the site of the incision
  • A small lump that forms because sperm leaks from a vas deferens into nearby tissue. This is usually not painful. If it is painful, it can be treated with rest and pain medicine. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to remove the lump.
  • Swelling of the vas deferens

Can Vasectomy be Reversed?

While it is possible to have a vasectomy reversed, this is a more complex and costly procedure. Also, reversing a vasectomy does not always result in pregnancy. If you think you may want to have children in the future but still want a vasectomy, talk with your physician about options for freezing sperm for future use.

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