Seven Things You Should Know About Vasectomy

(RxWiki News) If you are considering having a vasectomy, here are 7 things you should know.

More than 500,000 men undergo vasectomies every year in U.S. It the most common urological procedure. By severing the tubes (vas deferens) through which sperm travel from the testes to the penis, it is one of the best methods of birth control. If you’re considering it, here are seven things to know. 

  • Vasectomy is typically done in a doctor’s office or clinic. The procedure is done with a local anesthetic rather than general anesthesia.
    • It’s simple and safe.
    • It can even be done without a scalpel. Instead, a small hole is punctured with a special device.
    • Look for a urologist who is board-certified.
  • It does not result in immediate sterility. You may still have viable sperm in your system for several weeks after. Use an alternative birth control method until a semen analysis confirms no detectable motile sperm.
  • Major side effects from the procedure are unusual.
    • A little swelling and bruising at the incision area is to be expected.
    • A pain reliever can help with any short-term pain or discomfort.
    • But if you have an increase in pain or swelling, or develop a fever—signs of possible infection—see your doctor.
    • Some men have pain in the scrotum. But rarely does it last more than a year.
  • Vasectomy does not increase risk for diseases, including prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, or testicular cancer, according to a guideline paper1.
  • Men who have had a vasectomy do not report more sexual difficulties—such as a decrease in desire, difficulty maintaining an erection, or problems with orgasm2.
    • In fact, men who had the surgery were somewhat more likely to be very satisfied with their relationship.
    • That is perhaps because the procedure decreases anxiety about unwanted pregnancy and conflict over the use of contraception.
  • Vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
    • You can still transmit or get them when you have unprotected sex.
    • If you or your partner has an STI or you’re not sure of your STI status or your partner’s, you should always use a condom.
  • A vasectomy is considered a permanent form of contraception. If you want to preserve the option of having another biological child, prior to having a vasectomy arrange to have your sperm frozen and stored. If you don't freeze sperm and decide you want another child, it is often possible to reverse it with a vasovasostomy or vasoepididymostomy. 
    • A successful procedure depends on several factors. One of the most important factors is the length of time since the vasectomy was done. The longer the interval, the more difficult the procedure is, possibly due to scarring that increases over time.
    • A reversal may also be done to treat chronic vasectomy-related scrotal pain.
    • The procedure is more complex than a vasectomy. Therefore, it’s best done by a urologist who specializes in it.
    • It can take anywhere from 3 to 12 months for sperm to reappear in semen.
    • Sperm can also be surgically harvested during a reversal and used for in vitro fertilization.

References:

  1. Ira Sharlip. Journal of Urology, December, 2012.
  2. Anthony Smith. Journal of Sexual Medicine, February, 2010.