Deciding on birth control: Vasectomy – permanent contraception for men.

Vasectomy (sometimes called ‘the snip’) is a permanent birth control method for a man.  It’s for you if you and your partner are sure that you don’t want, or don’t want any more children.

In most States and countries it’s not a legal requirement for the female partner to give her consent to vasectomy, but your doctor may ask if this is a joint decision for you both.

It can be reversed but the operation is complicated and isn’t always successful.  This is why it’s important that your decision to have a vasectomy is a final one.

In this article we’ll look at the pros and cons of vasectomy, including what the operation entails.

What is vasectomy?

Vasectomy is male sterilization.  Once done, it will give permanent birth control.

How effective is vasectomy?

It is very nearly 100% affective in preventing pregnancy.

It’s estimated that 1 in every 2000 men who has had a vasectomy is still potentially fertile.

What happens when I have a vasectomy?

The vasectomy operation is quite quick, lasting about 15 minutes.  It can be done either at the out patient clinic or at the doctor’s office if the doctor offers this service.  It can be

how is vasectomy done, vasectomy,

Vasectomy cuts the vas deferens, the tube that takes the sperm from the testicle to the penis.

done under local anaesthesia or under general anaesthetic (where you’re put to sleep).

The operation cuts the vas deferens, the tube that carries the sperm from the testicles to the penis.  You can see that in the picture here.

  1. The doctor uses small injections of local anaesthesia to numb the skin on the scrotum (ball sack).
  2. He then cuts the skin where he can locate the tube he wants to cut.  Finding this tube (the vas deferens) is easily done.
  3. He cuts the tube using either a surgical blade or an electrical current called diathermy.  Diathermy also stops any bleeding at the same time.
  4. The small cut in the skin is mended either with paper stitches or with small dissolvable stitches.

The testicles will feel tender and bruised for a few days but regular pain meds will help this and you should feel better within a week.

Wearing tight-fitting underpants to support the balls will help as well, especially at night.

You should avoid doing heavy lifting or sport/exercise for a week or 2 after the operation.

You will be able to have sex whenever it’s comfortable for you.

How do I know if my vasectomy has been successful?

The operation isn’t effective right away.

You will need to use additional birth control measures until you have seen your doctor and been told you are no longer potentially fertile.  This means you will have to give sperm samples to the doctor; usually 2 samples, 3-6 weeks apart.  The first will be about 8 weeks after your op but your doctor will advise you about how many tests and how often.

What are the advantages of vasectomy?

It’s permanent and you and your partner won’t have to think about contraception again.

What are the disadvantages of vasectomy?

If your circumstances change or you change your mind, the operation to reverse a vasectomy is complicated and my not work.

Vasectomy does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases.  You will need condoms for disease prevention.

Is vasectomy right for me?

If you and your partner have completed your family or don’t want to have children at all, then vasectomy is a good option for permanent birth control.

If you’re not sure enough about the future for your relationship(s) then you may not feel this is the answer.

The decision to have a vasectomy shouldn’t be taken lightly.  If your partner has just given birth, you’ve recently been bereaved or are under other severe emotional stresses, then don’t make the decision at this time.

What are the side effects of vasectomy?

All operations carry a small risk – there is a risk from the anaesthetic if you have general anaesthesia and there is a risk of infection at the site where the cut is made into the scrotum.

Some men have a dull ache in the scrotum for some months after the operation.

Vasectomy does NOT:

  • Affect your sex drive
  • Make you more likely to develop male cancers
  • Make you less virile.

Find out more:

In the UK see www.fpa.org.uk

In the US see www.plannedparenthood.org

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