Is a vasectomy right for you?
Maybe you’ve decided that having children is not the right path for you, or maybe you and your partner are done building your family. How do you know if a vasectomy is the right choice – and is your decision permanent? Urologist Blake Wynia, MD, answered questions to help you understand this form of birth control.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a safe and effective surgical procedure for permanent birth control in men. It can be done with a small incision on each side of the scrotum or with a no-scalpel approach. The procedure involves blocking the supply of sperm to the semen by removing a very small portion of the vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the testicle. The procedure is typically done in the office and is performed under local anesthesia, taking under 15 minutes.
Is a vasectomy instant birth control?
The results of the procedure do not provide instant birth control. “Sperm remain in the vas deferens for up to 8 weeks. You cannot be considered sterile until a semen sample is examined 8–12 weeks after the procedure,” said Dr. Wynia.
What is the recovery like for a vasectomy?
Dr. Wynia said the recovery for a vasectomy is minimal, but you do want to be sure that you:
- Limit physical activities for 48–72 hours (plan to stay off your feet for that time).
- Apply an ice pack.
- Wear tight underwear.
- Avoid sexual activity for one week.
What are the risks?
A vasectomy is a very low risk procedure overall. There are small (1–2%) risks of infection, bleeding or chronic pain. There is a 1 in 2,000 risk of pregnancy after vasectomy, which is by far the most effective form of birth control available.
Can a vasectomy be reversed?
Dr. Wynia said that vasectomy should be considered permanent. There is a reversal procedure that is typically effective, however this involves a much bigger procedure in the operating room, can be expensive, and success is not guaranteed.
Will a vasectomy protect me from sexually transmitted infections?
A vasectomy will not protect you or your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). “It is important that you continue to use other forms of protection such as condoms to protect you from STIs if you are not in a monogamous relationship, even after a vasectomy,” said Dr. Wynia.
“The decision to have a vasectomy should not be taken lightly. If you are considering a vasectomy, it is important to talk to your doctor and discuss your options with your partner,” said Dr. Wynia.
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