Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure to cut and close off the tubes (vas deferens) that deliver sperm from the testes; it is usually performed as a means of contraception. The procedure typically takes from 15–30 minutes and usually causes few complications and no change in sexual function.
About 500,000 vasectomies are performed annually in the United States. A vasectomy is less invasive than a tubal ligation (i.e., the procedure used to prevent a woman’s eggs from reaching the uterus) and more easily reversed. An increasing number of couples choose it as a means of permanent birth control.
Benefits of a Vasectomy
It is recommended that men only get a vasectomy when they are certain that they no longer wish to have children. It is the preferred choice for many couples because:
- The use of male birth control (condoms) or female birth control (pills, IUDs, etc.) is no longer needed.
- The procedure is almost 100 percent certain to prevent pregnancy.
- It is much less expensive than female sterilization.
In most cases, a vasectomy will be performed in-office and is considered an outpatient procedure. Full-anesthesia is not required, only a local anesthetic is necessary. There are two ways to complete this procedure.
The surgeon will use a scalpel to create two small incisions on either side of the scrotum. The surgeon will remove a small section of the vas deferens. The tubes are tied, or cauterized so that they are closed and can no longer transport sperm.
A no-scalpel vasectomy does not use incisions, rather, the surgeon is able to access the vas deferens through very small holes. No stitches are needed for this form of surgery.
Recovery After the Procedure
Immediately following a vasectomy, there will be bruising and swelling, but those symptoms should subside after a few days. Apply ice packs every few hours to help control these symptoms. Wear tight-fitting underwear so that the scrotum is provided extra support.
Get plenty of bed rest during the first week. At the very least, stay off of your feet for two or three days. Avoid bathing for about 48 hours because this will allow the incisions to heal faster and prevent infection. Take the antibiotics that your doctor provides.
Most patients are able to return to their normal lives after one week.
Sex After a Vasectomy
Wait at least one week before having sexual intercourse. Keep in mind, you may not be sterile right away. Ejaculate may still contain sperm and may continue to for several months after the procedure. After a few months, the doctor will check sperm levels to confirm that it is declining until it reaches zero.
The vasectomy will not affect your sex drive and orgasms. Occasionally, men feel a slight pressure in their testicles when aroused, but eventually, that feeling will go away.
Male Reproductive System Anatomy
To understand a vasectomy, it is helpful to understand the male reproductive system and how it functions. The testicles, or testes, are the sperm- and testosterone-producing organs. They are located in a sac at the base of the penis called the scrotum. Each testicle is connected to a small, coiled tube called the epididymis, where sperm are stored for as long as 6 weeks while they mature. The epididymes are connected to the prostate gland by a pair of tubes called the vas deferens.
The vas deferens are part of a larger bundle of tissue, blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic channels called the spermatic cord. During ejaculation, seminal fluid produced by the prostate gland mixes with sperm from the testes to form semen, which is ejaculated from the penis.
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to talk to a specialist at Siouxland Urology about a vasectomy, please give us a call at 1 (605) 217-7000.