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Vasectomy 101

By on March 18, 2012

The decision to have a vasectomy is no small matter, as it must be considered irrevocable. Although urologists sometimes perform reversals, there are no guarantees of success. Roughly half a million U.S. men get vasectomies each year. Most of them are white; black and Latino men receive the fewest vasectomies, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

A vasectomy is usually done in your doctor’s office or in an outpatient surgery center. The operation takes about half an hour. You’ll most likely be awake during the procedure. Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic to numb your scrotum.

After you’re numb, your doctor will make a very small puncture (hole) on one side of your scrotum and pull out part of the vas deferens on that side. You may feel some tugging and pulling. A small section of the vas deferens is removed. The ends of the vas deferens will be sealed with small clamps. Your doctor will then do the same thing on the other side.

The puncture is so small that it heals without stitches.

Complications are rare from the procedure, which blocks the vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm during ejaculation, according to the American Medical Association. Of every 1,000 men sterilized, fewer than two will cause pregnancy in the first year. It takes about 15 ejaculations to eliminate the sperm that remain in a man’s system after the operation.

Sexual functioning is usually unchanged following a vasectomy, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). And there’s an added benefit: Most men report experiencing enhanced sexual pleasure because fears of unwanted pregnancy are relinquished, according to the AMA and urologists. In the rare cases when men lose sexual desire or sexual function, doctors say, it usually has to do with emotional issues present before the vasectomy.

It’s important to become informed about all aspects of a vasectomy. Talk to your doctor. 

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