A vasectomy is the most effective birth control method for men.
A vasectomy is a simple, safe procedure that makes a man sterile, or unable to father a child.
During the procedure the two tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra are cut and sealed off. This prevents sperm from traveling from the testes to the penis. It is the only change in your reproductive system. The testes still produce sperm, but since the sperm have nowhere to go, they die and are absorbed by your body. Only a very small amount of semen is made up of sperm. So after a vasectomy, your semen won’t look or feel any different. Your testosterone level and all other male sex traits stays the same. For most men, the ability to have an erection is unchanged.
Risks of a Vasectomy
A vasectomy is very safe, but all surgeries carry some risks. Some possible risks of vasectomy include:
- An inflammatory reaction to sperm that spill during surgery, which can cause a tender lump under the skin
- Painful, swollen and tender testicles may occur after vasectomy, most often during the first year after surgery
- In rare cases the tubes may grow back together, which could cause an unwanted pregnancy
- Pain that lasts long after surgery
- Short-term bleeding, swelling and bruising
There may be other risks, depending on your specific health condition. Talk with your health care provider about any concerns you have.
During and After the Procedure
A vasectomy is almost always done under local anesthesia. That means the area is numbed, but you are awake. It takes about 30 minutes and is done as an outpatient procedure. This means you go home the same day. You will likely be able to go home right after surgery. Ask your surgeon what type of medicine you may use for pain. You may be told to use an ice pack for the first day to reduce pain and swelling.
A vasectomy doesn’t change your sexual function. When you start having sex again, it should feel the same as before. A vasectomy also shouldn’t affect your relationship with your partner. It’s important to remember, though, that you won’t become sterile right away. After a vasectomy, some active sperm still remain in the reproductive system. It will take about three months and numerous ejaculations before the semen is completely free of sperm. Until then, you’ll need to use another form of birth control.
After three months, your provider will do a semen analysis to confirm the vasectomy was successful. A semen analysis is a series of tests that look at how healthy your semen and sperm are. This test is done with a semen sample.
If you have a reverse vasectomy, your provider can also use this test to see if it was successful.