Vasectomy is a permanent form of male birth control. This safe, minor operation is an excellent option for men who want to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and is an effective alternative to traditional birth control.
What is a vasectomy?
Vasectomy is a common urologic procedure that results in permanent birth control. It is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes and is done in the hospital, clinic or office.
Each testicle in the scrotum has a vas deferens, which is a tube that allows sperm to pass into a man’s semen. During a vasectomy, this tube is severed and closed so that sperm is blocked from leaving the testes, resulting in a form of birth control that is permanent (unless surgically reversed) and close to 100% effective.
Who can have a vasectomy?
Any man with no major health conditions who would like a form of permanent birth control may be a candidate for a vasectomy. Males as young as 18 years old can receive a vasectomy, but may choose to wait due to the permanent nature of the procedure.
Reasons for having a vasectomy are numerous and personal. Some men may choose to have a vasectomy to prevent passing on an inheritable disease. Others may be involved in a long-term relationship with a partner who shares their desire to not have children.
How does a vasectomy work?
A vasectomy works by stopping sperm from getting into the semen ejaculated during sexual intercourse. Sperm is transmitted to the semen by the vas deferens, a tube in the scrotum that connects the testes to the seminal vesicle. The seminal vesicle is where semen is produced and moved to the urethra, the tube within the penis that semen is expelled from.
The vas deferens are cut, blocked or sealed with heat, preventing sperm from reaching the seminal vesicle. This means that when a man ejaculates, the semen contains no sperm and a woman's egg cannot be fertilized.
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Benefits and risks of vasectomy
Vasectomies are a permanent form of birth control, so it will not be possible to have children after the procedure. Men who have received a vasectomy are still at risk of contracting and spreading a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sexual intercourse will still require the use of a condom in cases where risk of spreading a STI is present.
What happens during a vasectomy?
During a vasectomy, a piece of the vas deferens is removed and either clips or ties are applied. Some doctors turn the vas back or place the 2 ends in different levels. Entry is often gained to the scrotum using the no-scalpel method that results in only a small puncture rather than an incision.
Although a vasectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed without anesthetic in an office environment, there will be some pain and discomfort. Your doctor may recommended using an ice pack and pain medication after the surgery along with a few days of rest.
You must have protected intercourse until your physician confirms there is no sperm in the semen. Sperm levels are checked after a specific number of ejaculations (15-20) or based on timeframe (6 weeks or more after vasectomy). You will not be cleared for unprotected intercourse until the follow-up semen analysis shows no sperm.