Vasectomy: The Snip That Makes Men Squirm

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In order to get a woman pregnant under normal conditions, your sperm needs to meet your semen and then ejaculate from your penis. But if your sperm is blocked and never reaches your semen, the pregnancy can’t occur. That’s what happens after a vasectomy, explains urologist Robert Kohut, MD. It’s a popular yet permanent form of birth control, and results in sterilization for men.

What Exactly Happens During a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure performed by a urologist. Here’s what happens:

  1. Sperm is made in your two testicles.
  2. When your sperm leaves your testicles, it travels through a tube called the “vas deferens” to meet your semen and then ejaculate through your penis.
  3. During a vasectomy your urologist will use a scalpel or scissors to make a small hole in your scrotum (the sac that holds your testicles).
  4. Your vas deferens is gently lifted out of your scrotum. Then it is snipped and either tied or seared. Then it is placed back inside your scrotum.
  5. The procedure prevents your sperm from ever reaching your semen. You’ll continue to make sperm, but it will be absorbed by your body.

“Ninety-nine percent of vasectomies can be done in the doctor’s office in about 15 to 20 minutes,” says Dr. Kohut. “If your anatomy is abnormal, making it difficult to easily perform the procedure, we may do it in the operating room instead.”

How Will I Feel Afterwards?

Mild pain medication typically takes care of any pain. Once you’re feeling fairly comfortable, you’re free to leave. “There’s a very low risk of bleeding or infection,” says Dr. Kohut. “In fact, the risk is so low, we don’t even give antibiotics prior to a vasectomy. Instead, we clean the area during the procedure with a solution to prevent infection.”

Recovery time is minimal. “We ask that you don’t do any heavy lifting for the next few days. And we suggest icing the area off and on during that time,” says Dr. Kohut. “We advise against ejaculation for a week. But typically you can return to work a day or two after the procedure.”

An uncomplicated vasectomy:

  • Doesn’t affect your ability to have an erection
  • Isn’t noticeable by your partner
  • Doesn’t affect your ability to ejaculate or have an orgasm

Is It Permanent?

A failed vasectomy is one in which sperm is detected during a semen analysis approximately six months after the procedure. “The risk of this happening is one in 2,000,” according to Dr. Kohut.

There are several ways to have a baby with your partner following a vasectomy:

  1. Before the procedure you can have some of your sperm removed, frozen, and stored.
  2. Your doctor may be able to perform a vasectomy reversal.
  3. Your doctor may be able to remove sperm from your testicles and use it for in vitro fertilization.

Be aware that these procedures can be costly and not covered by your insurance. And they don’t always work.

To learn more about vasectomies, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.

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