Vasectomy is the most effective form of permanent contraception for men. A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that stops the flow of sperm between the testicle and the urethra by blocking the vasa deferentia, the tube-like structure that carries sperm to the testicle and through the urethra to the ejaculatory duct.
The Vasectomy Procedure
A vasectomy is a minor procedure that consists of the cutting and sealing of the vas deferens tubes, which are responsible for transporting sperm to the prostate for ejaculation. The testes will continue to produce sperm, but it will be absorbed back into the body soon after production and will not be present in semen. However, it can take up to three months post-surgery before the patient is completely sterile. This is due to sperm lingering within the various tubes of the penile anatomy and may require upwards of twenty ejaculations to ensure complete sterility.
The vasectomy operation is an out-patient procedure and can be performed right in the surgeon's office. The duration of the surgery is normally between 20 and 30 minutes and requires only local anesthesia.
Side Effects of a Vasectomy
A vasectomy has very few side effects. Some patients may experience the following side effects following a vasectomy:
- Sore and swollen scrotum
- Lower abdominal discomfort
Most patients experience minimal discomfort that can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication.
Complications of a Vasectomy
There is always a risk for infection and bleeding when an incision is made, but the small size of the cut needed for a vasectomy ensures minimal risk. It is possible for sperm to leak into the tissue of the scrotum after surgery. These are usually attacked by the patient's own immune system and may cause a small lump called a sperm granuloma. This usually clears up on its own, but in rare cases may need to be surgically removed. The libido of most men is unaffected by surgery.
Recovery from a Vasectomy
If employed at a desk job, the patient can usually return to work within one or two days after the vasectomy procedure. Manual labor jobs require a a longer period of time before the patient returns to his job.
Sexual activity can be resumed within about a week, but it is important to note that the vasectomy is not effective immediately, and if necessary, other means of birth control should be used temporarily. A follow-up sperm count test is recommended after two months to ensure sterility, as well as a second testing one month afterwards for complete confirmation. Patients should not assume that their vasectomy is effective until the semen analysis indicates the absence of sperm.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine