What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a procedure that a man can ask a doctor to perform to make him sterile. The doctor removes a section of the two tubes (vas deferens, or vas) that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. The testes are the two sex organs in the scrotum.
A few months after the vasectomy, the semen (the fluid that is ejaculated during sex) will no longer contain sperm. There is no change in a man's ability to have an erection and sexual intercourse after the surgery. The only difference is that there are no sperm in the semen to cause pregnancy.
When is it used?
A vasectomy is one of the most effective and safest forms of birth control. It is important to understand that sterilization is usually permanent.
What happens during the procedure?
The vasectomy is done in an outpatient clinic or in the doctor's office. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.
The doctor numbs each side of the scrotum with a local anesthetic. Then he or she makes one or two small cuts in the skin of the scrotum. The doctor pulls each vas through the opening and cuts out a section of each vas. The two ends of each vas are sealed and the vas are then placed back in the scrotum. The cuts are closed with stitches.
What happens after the procedure?
The man may go home after the procedure is completed. There may be some pain in the groin for 3 or 4 days after the operation. The area around the cuts may swell a bit and turn black and blue.
A man may have sex again as soon as he feels able, usually about a week after the procedure. For 2 to 4 months he should use other birth control methods during sexual intercourse, until a semen test is sperm-free. Ask the doctor what other steps should be taken and when a checkup and semen tests should be scheduled.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Vasectomy is a very reliable method of birth control.
There are no pills to take or devices to insert, and there is no interruption of sex.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
Local anesthesia may not numb the area quite enough and you may feel some minor discomfort. Also, in rare cases, you may have an allergic reaction to the drug used in this type of anesthesia.
The tissue next to the testes may become swollen.
There may be bleeding in the scrotum.
There is a chance that months or years after the operation sperm may again appear in the semen and possibly cause a woman to become pregnant.
There is a risk of infection or bleeding.