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A vasectomy is a common, voluntary procedure for men who wish to no longer have children. It doesn’t affect a man’s ability to perform sexually or achieve orgasm.
What is a Vasectomy?
Vasectomy is a procedure that creates permanent sterility (the inability to have children) in a man. During the procedure, the two vas deferens are blocked in order to obstruct the flow of sperm out of the testicles. It is performed on an estimated 500,000 U.S. men a year. It does not affect a man’s ability to perform sexually or achieve orgasms and doesn’t visibly change semen.
Vasectomy (for men) and tubal ligation (for women) are considered the two methods to produce permanent sterilization. There are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure.
How do we evaluate patients for a Vasectomy?
What to know before your visit to MidLantic Urology in Philadelphia and surrounding counties:
- The urologist will often ask about your social situation (i.e., single vs long-term relationship vs married) to determine whether you are a good candidate for the procedure. While none of these alone preclude undergoing a vasectomy, it is important to have a more informed discussion about the procedure.
- The urologist will also perform physical examination to confirm the presence of the vas deferens (some men are born with only one) and document that the testes are normal. There will also be discussion regarding the benefits and risks of the procedure.
How is a Vasectomy performed?
The vasectomy procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic (numbing medicine) in a doctor’s office or procedure clinic. The procedure typically takes 15 – 30 minutes and recovery is a few days but slightly longer for the return to more strenuous activity and exercise.
During the procedure, the vas deferens is cut and the ends are sealed. Typically, a piece of each vas deferens is also removed. As a minimum, the ends of the vas deferens should be sealed with cautery and the ends should be physically separated. Different surgeons also use a combination of clips and sutures during the procedure. The procedure may be performed with one or two punctures or incisions.
Following a vasectomy, the sperm, with nowhere to go, are absorbed by the body.
The prostate and seminal vesicle glands (which produce components of semen) continue to make fluids, so the semen looks the same. Also, hormone levels are unaffected, so hair distribution, voice pitch and sexual drive and sensations are unchanged.
Note, however, that a vasectomy does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
What is the Vasectomy healing process?
Patients may experience swollen, achy testicles for a week or so after the procedure, as well as bruising in the scrotum. Physicians recommend lying down for six to eight hours after the procedure and placing an ice pack on the incision.
In the five days after surgery, patients should avoid heavy lifting, exercise, and sexual intercourse. A small, bloody discharge from the incision site is normal.
Note: It usually takes a few months before sterility is complete, and 15 to 20 ejaculations are required to clear viable sperm from the reproductive system. A physician will confirm sterility with a semen sample two to three months after the vasectomy. Partners should use birth control until a physician determines complete sterility.
The following complications might occur in the first few days after surgery:
- Hematoma: Though rare, a small blood vessel may leak in the scrotum, forming a clot. A small clot typically dissolves with time, but a larger one may require reopening and draining the scrotum.
- Infection: Signs of infection include fever, chills, redness and swelling around the incision site.