Birth control has been around for a great number of years. Generally when people consider birth control women come to mind. However, men also have several methods of birth control to choose from. A number of men decide on a vasectomy as a method of birth control. Urologists do nearly 500,000 vasectomies for men each year in America.
Vasectomies are the most effective form of birth control for men next to abstinence. Men that elect a vasectomy procedure have decided that they want a permanent form of birth control.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy procedure interrupts the flow of sperm to the prostate. The tubes that lead to the testes (vas deferens) are blocked to prevent sperm from reaching the prostate. When sperm reaches the prostate it mixes with semen and flows outside of the body where it can fertilize an egg. Although the body is still producing sperm it is not able to reach the semen in the prostate. Without the semen the sperm cannot flow outside of the body and fertilize an egg. The sperm is reabsorbed by the body that doesn’t reach the prostate and expel during ejaculation.
Men that desire a vasectomy can have the procedure done in a doctor’s office. A local pain medication is usually given and they are generally done without general anesthesia. This is wonderful for recovery and reducing possible complications associated with general anesthesia and surgery.
Two types of vasectomy
The conventional method of a vasectomy makes two identical incisions on each side of the scrotum to cut and seal off the vas deferens. Sealing the vas deferens stops sperm from getting to the prostate and out of the body.
A no scalpel method of vasectomy can also be performed. Two small punctures are created which block the tubes of the vas deferens the same as the scalpel method. The only difference is in the surgical tool used is much less invasive and the recovery time much faster.
Nearly all men that have had both methods done readily admit that the no scalpel method is less painful and recovery faster than when a scalpel procedure is implemented for a vasectomy.
The entire process from start to finish is about an hour. The surgery takes approximately a half hour and doctors will ask patients to wait another half hour, more or less, to make certain no serious side effects or complications occur after the process.
Recovery after a vasectomy
The vasectomy is performed in a doctor’s office in a matter of minutes. Typically the patient goes home with over the counter pain medication, instructions to use an athletic supporter or “cup” and avoid strenuous activity for about 7 days.
After a vasectomy birth control is still recommended until completely healed. During the healing time period sperm can still travel through the vas deferens to the prostate and out of the body. This means the patient is still fertile. This is why it’s important to use birth control while the vasectomy heals.
Two tests are done after a vasectomy to confirm success. The laboratory tests count sperm. These tests will verify if sperm is in the semen or not. No sperm in the semen indicates a successful vasectomy has taken place. The two tests are generally done several weeks apart after the vasectomy.
Complications that can occur with a vasectomy
Vasectomy complications are extremely rare, but can occur. Every surgery has some type of risk. Vasectomies are not an exception to this rule, it is possible to have some problems following surgery. The rates of complications following vasectomy procedures are extremely low.
Complications that could occur include chronic pain conditions that could affect any area of the pelvic region including the scrotum. Some doctors have indicated possible nerve damage around the surgical site. Infections from the incision or stitches and bruising that could lead to a hematoma are also a risk with this surgical treatment.
Storing sperm before a vasectomy
Some men choose to store their sperm before vasectomies to have the option of reproduction after sterilization. Sperm is stored in a frozen or cryostorage form for a fee. For men that would like to reproduce using cryopreservation of their sperm they must do so through artificial insemination.
There is no time limit on how long sperm can be stored in this frozen state.
Cost for a vasectomy
Vasectomies are generally covered by health insurance leaving the patient to pay any deductibles or copays as liabilities. However, for patients that are paying out-of-pocket the cost will depend on where you live in the country. The average cost is around $500 to $600.
Although vasectomies are a permanent form of birth control and 95% of men are satisfied after the surgery, there are 5% that are not. This five percent will ask for a vasectomy reversal.
A reverse vasectomy is a surgical option. However, there is no guarantee that this permanent form of birth control can be reversed and fertility successfully restored after a vasectomy. Additionally, although this is permanent of birth control there is no guarantee that pregnancy cannot somehow occur. Although the chances of pregnancy occurring are less than one tenth of one tenth of a percent.