500,000 American men choose vasectomy every year. It is the only permanent birth control method available for males.
WHAT IS IT?
Vasectomy is a permanent sterilization method that involves cutting of the vas deferens, the tubes that hold sperm that are ready for ejaculation. Vasectomy can be performed by making a small incision or a small puncture to locate and sever the tubes. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes and usually can be performed in a doctor’s office. Most men do not require any type of hospitalization.
A man who has had a vasectomy will still be able to get and maintain erections and will still ejaculate. His body will still produce male hormones and his body will continue to make sperm. However, since the sperm will not be ejaculated out of the body, they will simply dissolve and be reabsorbed. Some men develop antibodies to their own sperm – this is not harmful, but may make reversal of the vasectomy (if it is desired) more difficult. The ejaculate of a man who has had a vasectomy will look just about the same as that of a man who has not. Ejaculate is made up of semen and sperm, with the vast majority of it being semen. A man who has had a vasectomy will still produce and ejaculate semen.
WHERE DO I GET IT?
Because vasectomy is a surgical procedure, a doctor must perform it. Some reproductive health clinics offer vasectomy services. A man who is interested in vasectomy should speak with his health care provider.
What are some of the possible side effects?
The vasectomy procedure itself is very low-risk, and complications are unlikely. Most men experience:
o A bit of pain after the procedure
o Very minimal bleeding
However, more serious complications are possible, if rare:
o Fever higher than 100.4°F
o A great deal of pus or blood draining from the incision site
o Severe pain or swelling
If a man has any of these symptoms, he should seek medical attention immediately. A man who is considering vasectomy should discuss the risks thoroughly with his health care provider.
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
Vasectomy is over 99% effective in the prevention of pregnancy. However, vasectomy does not become effective immediately. A man will still have to discharge the sperm that are already prepared for ejaculation. Depending on the male, this can take 15-20 ejaculations after the vasectomy procedure. A man who has had a vasectomy will have to return to his health care provider for a semen analysis, to make sure he is no longer ejaculating sperm.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD?
o Permanent and highly effective – a man who has had a vasectomy will never have to use another method to prevent pregnancy
o Less expensive and less invasive than sterilization for women (tubal sterilization)
o Vasectomy is permanent – reversal is very costly and not always effective
o Initial cost is high
o Because it is a surgical procedure, a man may have to take some time off from his regular activities.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The total cost of a vasectomy, including pre-procedure consultation, the procedure itself, and post-procedure semen analysis ranges from $240-$1000. Some insurance companies will pay for all or part of it.