A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that results in permanent male sterility. It can be done in your doctor’s office or a surgery center under local anesthesia.
To do a vasectomy, your doctor makes small cuts in the scrotum. They then cut and seal each of your vas deferens with searing or stitches.
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Preparing for the Procedure
A vasectomy procedure is the most reliable form of birth control for men. It prevents pregnancy by eliminating the chances of sperm entering semen, which then makes it impossible for fertilization to occur. A vasectomy won’t affect a man’s testosterone levels or his sex drive and is less expensive than other forms of birth control. However, a man should only undergo the procedure if he is certain he doesn’t want children and has a partner supporting his decision.
Before the procedure, a doctor will review your medical history and give detailed prepping instructions. Most doctors will recommend that you shave your entire groin area the night before or the morning of the surgery, using a single-blade disposable razor and avoiding the testicles. It’s also recommended that you wear a tight pair of athletic supporter pants or briefs during the day and night for a few days to reduce discomfort, swelling, and bruising. Before the procedure, you should take a non-aspirin pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen to help manage any discomfort. If your doctor has prescribed anti-anxiety medication, it should be taken 30 minutes before you head to the clinic. It’s important that you arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up because you won’t be able to drive after the procedure.
A traditional vasectomy involves a scalpel to cut the two tubes, the “vas deferens,” that lead from the testicles. A no-scalpel technique, also known as a no-cut or no-incision vasectomy, is a newer option that may reduce bleeding and eliminate the risk of infection and scarring. The doctor will make a small puncture on the scrotum, then feel for each tube to locate and identify it. They’ll then either tie or cauterize the tubes to close them and seal the skin.
There’s no need to fast during the procedure, and you won’t be under general anesthesia. Your doctor will likely ask you to sign a consent form before the operation that confirms that you understand the risks and benefits of vasectomy and agree to it being done.
During the Procedure
Men produce sperm in their testicles, and these travel down tubes (the vas deferens) to combine with egg cells to form babies. A vasectomy takes out a part of the tube, making it impossible for sperm to reach the eggs and prevent pregnancy. It is an outpatient procedure and can be done in a doctor’s office or surgery center. Most urologists perform vasectomies, but family medicine doctors or general practitioners can also do them.
Before the procedure, your doctor will discuss it with you and answer any questions. You will then sign a consent form to give your permission to have the operation. The doctor will then numb the scrotum with local anesthesia. You may feel a slight stinging sensation from the injection, but it doesn’t last long. You should also inform your doctor of any medications you are taking, including aspirin and other similar drugs that thin blood.
During the procedure, your surgeon will make an opening in your skin and then grasp the vas deferens. The surgeon can then remove a part of the tube, tie it, clip it, or cauterize it. Depending on how your doctor routinely does the vasectomy, you may or may not need stitches.
After the surgery, you should rest for a few days and use ice packs on your scrotum to reduce pain and swelling. You can usually go back to work or other normal activities within 48 hours, but you should avoid strenuous exercise or anything that would cause pressure on the surgery site. If you experience a lot of pain or a fever, call your doctor right away.
Your doctor will give you instructions about follow-up semen testing to confirm that the vasectomy is effective. You will need to continue to use birth control or condoms until the semen tests show that you are completely sterile. It can take up to three months for all sperm to leave the body, so it is important to stick with this schedule. Until then, you can enjoy your life without worrying about unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
If you’re considering having a vasectomy, it’s a good idea to consult a urologist. They are trained surgeons with expert knowledge of the male reproductive system. They also perform many vasectomies each year. During the consultation, you’ll discuss your decision and the procedure. The doctor will also ask if you want to take an anti-anxiety medication before the surgery.
On the day of the procedure, you’ll need to ensure you have someone to drive you to and from the clinic and home afterward. You’ll also be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you understand the risks of a vasectomy and that it’s not guaranteed (no medical procedure is).
There are several different techniques for a vasectomy. Whether the doctor cuts open your scrotum with a scalpel or uses a no-scalpel method, they will feel for each of the vas deferens and either tie, clip, or cauterize them. Most men experience only minor pain during a vasectomy. The scrotum might become swollen or tender for a few days afterward, but these symptoms are usually not serious.
Once the vasectomy has healed, you should be able to resume your normal activities. However, you should continue to use protection during sexual activity until your doctor can verify that your semen no longer contains sperm. That typically takes about a week after the procedure.
It’s common to have some blood in your semen during the first few ejaculations after a vasectomy, but it won’t cause any problems. You may also notice a small, firm lump in the scrotal sac called a granuloma. It’s a benign tumor that forms from fluid leaks and is not harmful.
Some men report feeling more sexually active after a vasectomy, but it’s not universal. On average, a vasectomy is 99 percent effective. There’s a slight risk that the ends of the tubes can rejoin, but this is very rare. If that happens, sperm could leave the body through this new path and cause pregnancy. It’s also important to note that a vasectomy won’t affect testosterone levels, erections, or sex drive.
Keep the groin area clean and iced for the first few days after your vasectomy. You may experience some pain in the scrotum and bleeding, but it usually isn’t serious. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) or ibuprofen should help with any discomfort you may have.
You should avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, and sexual activity until your doctor says you can. It may take up to 12 weeks before your semen tests negative for sperm, so you’ll need alternative methods of birth control until then.
Your doctor uses a small puncture to reach both of your vas deferens tubes through the skin on your scrotum. They then tie, clip, or cauterize each tube. Traditional vasectomies use a scalpel, but no-scalpel or no-cut vasectomy methods use only a tiny hole in the skin and no cutting of the tissue. These methods are less painful, require less recovery time, and don’t leave a scar.
The success rate of a vasectomy is very high, but there is always a small chance that the two ends of your vas deferens can rejoin, even if they were only separated by a hair’s width. In these rare cases, you could get pregnant. The procedure isn’t 100 percent effective and doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, such as genital warts and herpes.
After your surgery, you should continue using condoms during sex. You should also use protection if you have a partner or plan to become one. You should not have unprotected sex until you’ve had a follow-up appointment with your doctor and you’re sure that the vas deferens are blocked. If you do have sex, it should be limited to intercourse with women who are also wearing condoms. It’s also important to see your doctor for follow-up appointments every 6 to 12 weeks until he confirms that the vas deferens are still blocked. Seeing your doctor in a timely manner can prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs. In addition, having sex with a woman while your vas deferens aren’t blocked can cause her to become pregnant.
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