Vasectomy – Is it for you?

The thought of surgery involving the scrotum is enough to instil fear in even the bravest man. But if you have completed your family, a vasectomy is a worthwhile consideration. If this is you, here are your most common questions, answered.

What is a Vasectomy? 

A vasectomy is a safe and effective method of permanent birth control for men. It is a small surgical procedure, where the ‘vas deferens’, the tubes that carry the sperm, are cut so that no sperm can enter the ejaculate.

How effective is it?

It is one of the most effective means of preventing pregnancy and is about 99% effective.

Does a vasectomy work immediately?

No, sperm may be found in the ejaculate for about 3 months after surgery. It is very important to use additional means of contraception until your doctor confirms a zero sperm count.

Will it be painful?

The procedure takes about 30 minutes, and is usually done under local anaesthesia. Patients may experience mild ache for a few seconds during the procedure. Afterwards you may experience slight discomfort for a few days.

How long will I be off work?

Doctors recommend no physical activity or work for 2 days, and returning to normal activity after 3 to 7 days. You can get back to your normal sexual activity (with protection!) after a week.

Will it affect my Sex Life or erections?

Your sex drive, ability to have an erection, orgasm or ejaculate is unaffected. You will still ejaculate, but without the stress about unwanted pregnancy. This often leads to increased sexual satisfaction.  Testosterone, the male hormone, is still released directly into the blood, so all masculine traits like beard growth remain unchanged.

What happens to the sperm?

The sperm that is produced is reabsorbed by the body.

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 Can it be reversed?

A vasectomy should be considered as a permanent procedure. Although it is possible in some cases to reverse the surgery, it is expensive and the chance of resulting in pregnancy is small.

Do I need my wife’s permission?

Hmmm..legally, no. But for the sake of your relationship, we’d advise against getting the procedure without discussing it with your partner.

Should I have a vasectomy or should my wife have a tubal ligation?

This is largely a personal choice, as both are effective, safe and permanent. However a vasectomy is a simpler, safer, easier and cheaper option.

What are the potential complications?

Complications are rare, but can include bleeding, infection, and formation of a granuloma or congestion, but these usually resolve. The most important complication is  failure of the procedure, where sperm continues to be present in the ejaculate. Very rarely patients experience on going pain.

 Are there long term health risks?

There are no long term health risks; there is no increased risk of cancers and heart disease, and no evidence of weight gain.

 Will it protect me from passing on or getting Sexually Transmitted diseases and HIV?

No, a vasectomy does not protect you against any sexually transmitted disease, including HIV. You’ll still need to use condoms to protect you from these.

 Vasectomy – is it right for you?

Usually the strong emotional response at the thought of the surgery is off putting; however a vasectomy is a minor, safe and highly effective means of male contraception. Once your family is complete it’s a great option to consider.

By: Dr. Ingrid de Beer

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