As a birth control method, vasectomy is very effective. Only 1 to 2 women out of 1,000 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year after their partners have had a vasectomy. The surgery cuts the vas deferens, these are the tubes that carry a sperm from testicles to the urethra. After a vasectomy, sperm cannot move out of the testes. A man who has had a successful vasectomy cannot make a woman pregnant.
What happens during a vasectomy?
Every patient is unique, but in most cases the surgery is minimally invasive. With a conventional vasectomy, an urologist makes one or two small cuts in the skin of the scrotum to access the vas deferens. The vas deferens is cut, and a small piece may be removed leaving a short gap between the two remaining ends. Next, the urologist may cauterize the lumen or ends of the vas, then ties the cut ends with suture material. The scrotal incisions may be closed with dissolvable stitches or allowed to close on its own. The entire procedure is then repeated on the other side either through the same initial incision or through a second scrotal incision.
What to expect after your surgery:
Your scrotum will be numb for 1 to 2 hours after a vasectomy. Apply cold packs to the area and lie on your back as much as possible for the rest of the day. Wearing snug underwear or a jockstrap will help ease discomfort and protect the area. You may have some swelling, discoloration and minor pain in your scrotum for several days after the surgery. Unless your work is strenuous, you will be able to return to work in 1 or 2 days. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a week.
You can resume sexual intercourse as soon as you are comfortable, usually in about a week. But you can still get your partner pregnant until your sperm count is zero. You must use another method of birth control until you have a follow-up sperm count test 2 months after the vasectomy. You must continue to use birth control to prevent pregnancy until your semen sample is totally free of sperm.
Once your sperm count is zero, no other birth control method is necessary.
Is Vasectomy right for you?
If you are considering a vasectomy, be absolutely certain that you will never want to father a child. A vasectomy is not usually recommended for men who are considering banking sperm in case they decide later to have children. Discuss other options with your partner and your health professional.
Surgery to reconnect the vas deferens (vasectomy reversal) is available, but may not be covered by your insurance, and may not always work.