Every year, on 17 November, World Vasectomy Day is celebrated around the world for men who are “stepping up for their partners, their families and their future.” This day was founded in 2012 when American filmmaker Jonathan Stack was working on a documentary about vasectomies. Since then, more men have been aware, conscious and involved about family planning decisions and taking responsibility for birth control.
About 500,000 vasectomies are performed in the United States each year. The procedure is actually cheaper, faster, safer and more reliable than female sterilisation, yet only 9 percent of sexually active males get vasectomies, compared to 27 percent of females who get tubal ligations.
There’s a lot of stigma and fear based on the lack of information that is associated with a vasectomy. One of the biggest fears is related to the pain that comes with the surgical procedure, while the other main fear is that there might be a negative impact on a man’s sexual performance, or worse, the societal views upon a man who has been “clipped”.
It’s high-time that we snip those fears and learn more about what really happens to a man when he’s had a vasectomy.
But first, what exactly is vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilisation or permanent contraception. Cambridge dictionary defines it as the medical operation of cutting the tubes through which a man’s sperm passes through in order to prevent his partner getting pregnant.
What actually happens to a man when he gets a vasectomy?
The short and concise answer is: No, a man’s masculinity does not diminish one bit when he gets a vasectomy.
Now here’s the more detailed answer. First, it’s important to know that there are two types of vasectomies. But prior to that, your doctor, most likely a urologist (a doctor who specialises in the male reproductive system) will have a bit of a discussion with you to find out whether this is the right method of birth control for you.
Things to know prior to getting a vasectomy
The urologist will likely inform you that a vasectomy is likely permanent (unless you later opt for a reverse vasectomy). You may also be told that a vasectomy is over 99 percent effective and is a reliable form of birth control. You will also be given a brief of how the procedure is performed, that it only takes between 20-30 minutes and it can be done both in a doctor’s office and an operating room.
Of course, costs will be discussed. You will find out that a vasectomy is thousands of dollars cheaper than sterilisation methods for women. A tubal ligation can cost up to US $6,000 while a vasectomy normally costs between US $800 to US $1,000.
Unlike most surgical procedures, such as a tubal ligation, a vasectomy does not require the patient to undergo general anaesthesia. A simple local anaesthetic will often suffice. For extra anxious patients, Valium or a similar relaxant may be offered.
The two classifications of a vasectomy
The surgeon or urologist will make an incision (a small cut) in the upper part of your scrotum once the area is numb with local anaesthesia. The urologist will locate the vas deferens, or the tube that carries semen from your testicles. The vas deferens will be cut and a small piece may be removed, leaving a gap between the two ends. The urologist will then “seal” these two ends using heat (cauterisation), tying it, using surgical clips or a combination of these methods. The ends of the vas deferens will then be returned to the scrotum.
The incision at the surgery area will then be closed. Stitches may be required for this and, in some cases, the wound will be left on its own to close over time.
The no-scalpel method
In this method, a small hole (a tiny puncture) will be made on one side of the scrotum. The urologist will find the vas deferens under the skin and pull them through the small hole created. The ends will then either be cauterised (sealed using heat) or tied off, then put back in its place. The same procedure will be done on the other testicle. Because the punctures created in this method are extremely small, no stitches are required for this.
What happens right after a vasectomy?
Immediately after a vasectomy, some bruising, swelling and pain are expected. Your urologist will likely give you instructions and tips how to recover faster, such as:
- Applying a vasectomy ice pack to the scrotum for the first two days. This will alleviate any pain and also decrease swelling and bruising.
- You may also need to provide support to your scrotum by wearing a bandage or snug underwear for at least 48 hours after the vasectomy is done.
- You will need to rest for 24 hours after a vasectomy. Avoid sports, lifting and heavy physical work for the next week or so.
- Try to avoid sexual activity for the first week or so after vasectomy. You may feel pain when ejaculating or notice blood in your semen right after the procedure.
- A vasectomy does not provide immediate protection against pregnancy. Use another form of contraception until months later, or when your urologist has confirmed that no sperm can be found in your semen.
Will a man’s sexual performance or libido be affected after a vasectomy?
This is probably the million dollar question every man and his uncle wants an answer to. Many will be pleased to know that a vasectomy does not affect sexual pleasure or performance in a man at all. Men who have had vasectomies have reported no negative effects at all on sexual function. Ninety-eight to 99 percent of men who have had a vasectomy were satisfied with the results of the procedure. A man’s orgasm also does not change after a vasectomy.
But where does sperm go after a vasectomy?
After a vasectomy, a man still produces sperm. The vas deferens (which have been snipped in a vasectomy), carry the sperm from the testicles to the urethra. The urethra is the tube inside the penis. Because the vas deferens are cut during a vasectomy, the sperm does not continue to get transferred from the testicles to the urethra. When a man who’s had vasectomy ejaculates, semen containing no sperm comes out. The testes still make sperm, but the sperm are absorbed by the body.
The surprising side effect of a vasectomy
Gentlemen who’ve had a vasectomy may be pleasantly surprised to find out that women might like them even more. It is, after all, a big turn on for women when men take responsibility for birth control.
Are you thinking about getting a vasectomy? If you need more information, particularly about post-vasectomy care, have a chat with us, we’d love to hear from you!