WHAT IS A VASECTOMY?
In a nutshell, it is a minor operation that stops you producing fertile sperm. It’s also a less clinical way of saying ‘‘male sterilization’’ As a means of contraception, it’s close to 100 percent effective, and it’s a lot less fiddly than most alternatives.
SO, IT’S THE SAFEST FORM OF CONTRACEPTION THEN?
It’s certainly the soundest way of stopping you producing children but it’s not a ‘safe sex’ option. While it may prevent An Unwanted pregnancy, a vasectomy offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. You’re still having the same intimate contact and passing fluids.
IS IT A DANGEROUS OPERATION?
It’s about as medically complex and traumatic as having your earwax syringed. Vasectomies are performed on an outpatient basis and, in total, they take about 20 minutes.
HOW’S IT DONE
The physician applies a local anesthetic to the scrotum, then makes one or two small incisions near the base of the penis. The vas deferens - a narrow tube that carries sperm from the testes to the prostate and reproductive organs – is pulled out through the incision. The tube is snipped and the severed ends tied back or cauterized.
Depending on the urologist, some methods involve cauterizing the loose ends with an electrical current using a sort of soldering iron. In other cases only one cut end is sealed, while the other is left to heal naturally. The tube is then popped back in and the scrotum’s stitched-up..Next!
AND MEN VOLUNTEER FOR THAT?
It’s nowhere near as painful as it sounds. You’ll feel a dull ache as the painkillers wear off and there may be some bruising or slight bleeding around the scrotum for a few days afterwards. Patients are advised to rest for at least 24 hours, staying off their feet as long as possible. Complications, such as infection, are rare.
DO YOU STILL EJACULATE
Absolutely. A vasectomy stops the production of sperm from the testes, but doesn’t stop the prostate and other glands from producing the fluids that make up semen. So, there’s no difference to the volume you produce when the cork goes off, it’s just that now your bubbly is alcohol-free.
WHEN CAN I PLAY SPORT AGAIN?
It’s usually wise to take it easy for a few weeks after the operation especially if mountaineering, horse riding/polo are your sports. You should also wear close-fitting trunks as often as possible in the first month or so, just to support the scrotum.
As soon you feel up to it, which in most patients is about a week after the snip. A word of warning though: you’re not ready to go freestyle straight way. You’ll still be backed up with ‘old’ sperm. Only after you’ve submitted two semen specimens 12 weeks and 16 weeks after the operation – and your semen is found to be sperm-free are you given the all-clear signal. Until then, you or your partner should use contraception.
WILL I TURN INTO A WOMAN?
Nope. A vasectomy doesn’t stop you producing male hormones, you won’t lose your pubic or facial hair, you won’t suddenly sound like the short fat guy and you won’t start pilling on the pounds. You will still get and erection, have orgasms and enjoy making love. In one recent survey, none of the men questioned thought the snip had adversely affected their sex lives. In fact, a fifth of them thought things had got much better in bed since that nagging fear of an unwanted pregnancy had gone.
IS IT ALWAYS A SUCCESS?
About one in every 2,000 to 3,000 vasectomies re-canalize after the patient’s been given the all-clear. This may sound like Labor’s Mass transport initiative but it’s actually where the two ends of the vas deference reunite. Re-canalization can result in you becoming fertile again, and your reproductive juices will be up that tube like spawning salmon. The chances of this happening ate highest – one in 400 – in the first few months after the operation, hence the specimen tests.
BUT WHAT IF I DECIDE LATER THAT I WANT TO HAVE KIDS?
A vasectomy should really be considered permanent, but with growing numbers of men starting second families these days, vasectomy reversal is on the increase. Reversal operations are often a much more involved form of microsurgery, lasting about 90 minutes. They are also dependent on how well the vas deferens has healed after the initial vasectomy.
WILL I BE MORE PRONE TO PROSTATE CANCER?
There is no biological reason why and, so far, studies into any relationship between vasectomies and prostate cancer have failed to establish a conclusive link.