Would you have a vasectomy?

Vasectomy is an effective and permanent form of contraception. Since the sex hormones made by the testes (testosterone etc) continue to be passed into the bloodstream after vasectomy, sex drive doesn't decrease. The operation is quicker, easier, and more effective than female sterilisation. There is a very small failure rate. The decision to have a vasectomy should not be made without discussing your options with your doctor.

1. What is vasectomy?
Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that seals the sperm-carrying tubes. This prevents the sperm from getting into the fluid men ejaculate. Sperm is made in the testes and this tube transports the sperm from the testes to the penis. Once the tube is cut, sperm can no longer get into the semen that is ejaculated during sex. 

2. How is a vasectomy done?
Some doctors use the “cautery” technique. No stitches are required and a local anaesthetic is used. A small incision measuring less than 1cm is made to the scrotum. Through this, the doctor can reach the sperm carrying tubes (vasa deferens) and seals them using a small instrument. The procedure takes an average of 10 minutes. There is no other manner a man can be sterilised. The operation is usually painless. After the operation, when the local anesthetic wears off, the top part of the scrotum is normally mildly sore for a few days. Ignore any 'scare stories' that seem to be a favorite joke topic for some men.

3. Are there any risks to the operation?
Most men do not experience any problems after the procedure. There may be slight swelling or bruising which can be relieved using painkillers and an ice-pack. Post operative pain can be experienced for some time after the procedure but this is extremely rare.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of vasectomy?
The advantages are that the procedure is permanent and you don't have to think of contraception again. It is easier to do, and more effective, than female sterilisation.

Disadvantages include that it is permanent and some people regret having a vasectomy, especially if their circumstances change. It may also take a few months before the semen is free from sperm.

5. How do I know it has been successful?
Occasionally some procedures are not successful, and semen tests show sperm still present after the operation. Some sperm survive in the 'upstream' part of the vas deferens for several weeks after vasectomy. These can get into the semen for a while after the operation. About 8 weeks after the operation men need to produce 2 semen tests about 3-6 weeks apart. These are looked at under the microscope to check for sperm. If these are clear of sperm they will be given the 'all clear'. Men still need to use other forms of contraception, such as condoms, until they get the 'all clear'.

6. Can a vasectomy be reversed?
Vasectomy is considered permanent. There is an operation to re-unite the two cut ends of the vas deferens. It is a difficult operation and not always successful.

7. What happens to the sperm?
Sperm are still made as before in the testes and are 'dissolved' into the body.

8. How soon after the operation can I have sex?
You can resume sex as soon as it is comfortable to do so. Remember to use other methods of contraception (such as condoms) until you provide two semen specimens which are clear of sperm.

9. I have heard that there is an increase in the risk of prostate cancer after vasectomy. Is this true?
The short answer is no. A few years ago there was a 'scare' about a possible link. Since then several surveys have been done and have shown that there is no link between vasectomy and an increased risk of any cancer.

10. What happens after the procedure?
Some men experience some discomfort and pain that lasts for a few days. It is also best not to do heavy work, exercise, or lifting for a week or so after the operation. Don’t have sex without a condom. It is recommended to take a week off from work to rest.

Information supplied by Marie Stopes.

What do you think of vasectomy as a contraceptive option? Have you had one? Do you have any regrets?

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