A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that blocks off the sperm supply to a man’s semen. The small tubes that carry sperm (vas deferens) are cut and separated to prevent sperm from leaving the scrotum and potentially causing a pregnancy. The procedure is very effective at preventing pregnancy, but it is intended to be permanent. Therefore, those who are interested in receiving a vasectomy must be certain they will not want to become a father in the future.
A vasectomy is a relatively simple, quick and effective outpatient procedure (often performed in the office) with low risks; however, it is not immediately effective. It may take about three months or 15 to 20 ejaculations for the semen to be fully clear of residual sperm. During this time, it is important to still use other forms of birth control to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
What Happens During a Vasectomy?
The procedure usually lasts 10 to 30 minutes. The patient will be given local anesthesia to numb where the incision will be made on the scrotum. Beginning on one side, the vas deferens tube is identified, dissected and then the ends are blocked off with stitches, surgical clips or cauterization using an electrical current. This is then repeated on the other side. After both tubes are blocked off, the incision on the scrotum is stitched closed. A semen analysis is performed about three months after the procedure to make sure that no sperm remains in your semen.
What is the Recovery Time for a Vasectomy?
Most men will recover within a few days to a week after a vasectomy. It is important to avoid physical work or exercise for about a week or two after the procedure. Some patients might experience mild side effects after the procedure including bruising on the scrotum and discomfort from pressure in the testicles. If you are experiencing the following side effects, it is recommended to call your doctor:
- Blood or infection at the incision site
- A fever of 100 F or more
- Extreme pain or swelling of the scrotum
Although a vasectomy procedure is meant to be permanent, there may be options for a reversal procedure. There are no guarantees that fertility will be restored. However, if you received your vasectomy less than 10 years ago, the effectiveness of a reversal is higher. A vasectomy reversal can become expensive and is a more invasive and complex procedure than the original vasectomy. This is another reason why it is important to be confident in the initial decision to receive a vasectomy.
Additionally, if your partner is interested in learning more about other forms of birth control, UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health offers a telehealth clinic.