When people think of birth control, they often think of what women can do or take to make it effective. But men can also take steps in having reliable birth control. When a man undergoes a vasectomy the surgeon blocks or cuts off the pathway that allows sperm to be ejaculated thereby making it close to impossible for an egg to be fertilized. Besides abstinence, it would seem there’s no safer or more reliable form of birth control.
A vasectomy can cost anywhere from $350 to $1,000. It is important for patients to check with their insurance companies before undergoing a vasectomy, in some cases insurance companies will cover the cost of the procedure. It is believed that insurance companies sometimes cover this procedure as it saves them money in the long run, (covering children for health care can be very expensive).
The reversal of a vasectomy can be complicated, costly, and could potentially not work. A reversal can cost up to $15,000 as it is a challenging procedure. Depending on how long ago the procedure was performed males can have a 50% chance of being able to reproduce again. This is why it is extremely important for the male to be 100% sure they want to undergo the surgery as they have the possibility of never being able to have children again.
After surgery, the patient can apply ice packs to the scrotum, but they should stop this after a 24-hour period. After 48 hours the patient may take a shower and remove the dressings. There will be absorbable sutures that close the wounds, some can take up to one month to completely dissolve. Normal non-vigorous activity can resume after a 48-hour period. Depending on the patient, running and weight lifting can begin again after about two weeks. They can also engage in sexual intercourse after two to three weeks. Your doctor can let you know how long you need before you can engage in certain activities.
- The surgeon will use local anesthesia on the patient, which means they will be awake but will not be able to feel pain.
- Once the scrotum is shaved and cleaned, the surgeon will often give the patient a shot of numbing medicine on that same area.
- The surgeon will then make a surgical cut in the upper part of the patient’s scrotum, and tie off and cut apart the vas deferens.
- To close the wound, the surgeon will use stitches or dissolvable skin glue to close the wound.
Vasectomy without a surgical cut (No-scalpel Vasectomy)
- The surgeon will find the vas deferens by feeling the patient’s scrotum and then give the numbing medication.
- Then the surgeon will make a tiny hole in the skin of the patient’s scrotum and seal off the vas deferens. In order to tie off and cut apart the vas deferens the surgeon typically pulls the vas deferens through the tiny hole. The patient will not need stitches after a no-scalpel vasectomy.
As with any procedure there can be many complications. These include but are not limited to:
- Bleeding under the skin, causing swelling or bruising
- Infection on the incision site
- Infection inside the scrotum
- Sperm Granuloma (when sperm leaks from the vas deferens into the tissue surrounding it, creating a small lump)
- Congestive Epididymitis (the tubes that move the sperm from the testicles becomes inflamed)
- The man becomes fertile again due to the vas deferens growing back together
Doctors should warn their patients to continue to have protected sex a few months after surgery, because the sperm will still be present in their semen. The overall failure rate of a vasectomy is about 0.15%. Most of the failures happen a few months after surgery because patients did not continue having protected sex when they were advised to.
Although the odds of impregnating a woman when a man has had a vasectomy are about 1 in 2,000, there is still a small chance of failure to stop fertilization of the female egg. In rare cases there can be a reopening of one of the male’s tubes that carries the sperm from the testicles.
As with any surgery there are risks associated with the procedure. After a vasectomy there is a chance of infection or a hematoma. A hematoma is the accumulation of blood in the male’s scrotum. The hematoma may take a few weeks to go down. It is good to note that if this were to happen to the patient it is highly unlikely that they will suffer from long-term negative effects or the loss of sexual abilities.
Vasectomy and Testosterone
Men will not experience a drop in testosterone after a vasectomy. It has been said that hormone levels are affected by this procedure, which is false. Sometimes men have a boost in sexual function, as they are less worried about impregnating their significant other.
Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer
There has been some research linking prostate cancer with vasectomies but this usually associates the fact that men who undergo vasectomies are more likely to be tested regularly for prostate cancer. This allows these men to find problems sooner than later in comparison to men who do not get check ups regularly.
Men have a few alternatives to a vasectomy, which include condoms, abstinence, the rhythm method, and withdrawal. The rhythm method is when men and women avoid having intercourse when the woman is ovulating, and only have sex when ovulation is least likely to occur. Withdrawal is the removal of the penis before ejaculation; many people use this method, as it’s free and obviously always available. This latter method is not always effective though and men have to be very careful when predicting ejaculation.
Vasectomy Typical Symptoms Post Surgery
Any of the following symptoms are common if you have had a vasectomy. If you do experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to check with your doctor to ensure that you are not experiencing anything out of the ordinary that needs medical attention.
- Scrotal swelling
- Bruising/discoloration of the scrotal skin and base of penis
- Pinkish fluid may come from the incision (keep area clean and dry)