What Should You Expect Before Undergoing a Vasectomy?
For sexually active men who don’t wish to have children, a vasectomy could be an option for birth control. But what exactly is a vasectomy? And what should you expect before getting this procedure?
What do I need to know before scheduling a vasectomy?
Choosing to get a vasectomy is a significant decision for men, and it's important to be well informed before proceeding with the procedure. This in-office procedure involves cutting the vas deferens, a tube responsible for transporting sperm, preventing sperm release, and ensuring the likelihood of sterility by almost 100%.
A separate office visit for the procedure follows a consultation with a urologist. While most procedures can be performed outpatient with local anesthesia, some may require conscious sedation or general anesthesia.
Vasectomy stands out against female sterility procedures that often require an operating room and general anesthesia. A vasectomy does not significantly alter semen volume, cause erectile function or decrease sensation during intercourse. Testosterone levels and libido remain unaffected.
What will happen the day of the procedure?
The operating room is prepared to sterilize the patient on the procedure day. Clean drapes are placed over the patient, leaving the scrotum and penis exposed. Your doctor will first bring the vas deferens up to the skin level.
Next, the skin is opened, and the vas deferens are moved out of the scrotum through a small incision, typically one-quarter to half an inch. A segment is cut and removed after separating it from the surrounding area. The vas deferens are then placed back into the scrotum, and the procedure is performed in the other testicle. Once the skin is closed, the process is complete.
There may be discomfort during this procedure, a sensation that feels like a prick in the testicle. Local anesthesia is used to relieve this sensation quickly. Communicating discomfort to your care team is important so the local anesthetic can be applied to specific nerves to reduce pain.
What should I expect after the vasectomy is completed?
After the procedure, you'll be expected to rest and refrain from heavy lifting or sexual activity for at least a week. These details will be discussed during your consultation and could differ from patient to patient. You'll be provided with post-operative pain medication and, if needed, antibiotics and anxiety medication. Despite the vas deferens being cut, sperm may still be present in semen for a couple of months following the procedure. It's important to use birth control, like condoms, during sexual activity until cleared by your physician and confirmed through one or two semen analyses. Also, for a few days, scrotum support, like tight-fitting underwear and ice packs, is advised to help with pain and swelling.
Are there any side effects after a vasectomy?
Yes, getting a vasectomy may have low risks and side effects, including bruising, rare infections, ejaculation pain and sperm leakage. Following postoperative care instructions can help minimize these risks.
Can my vasectomy be reversed?
While vasectomies are considered permanent, there are surgical options available for reversal. However, success is influenced by several factors. The longer it has been since the vasectomy, the lower the likelihood of success. Reversing a vasectomy is a complex procedure that requires a skilled urologist. While success is not guaranteed, many men undergo reversals and successfully father children afterward.
Getting a vasectomy is a personal choice that requires careful consideration. Patients can make confident decisions that align with their reproductive goals by being well-informed about the procedure, potential outcomes and post-operative care.