What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a minor surgery for male sterilization, or permanent birth control. In a vasectomy, a urologist cuts and closes off the two vas deferens. The vas deferens are tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra. The sperm are ejaculated in the semen during intercourse. After a man has a vasectomy, he will still produce sperm, but the sperm do not move out of the testicles.
A vasectomy is considered permanent contraception. A urologist can reverse a vasectomy by reattaching the ends of the vas deferens in a procedure called a reverse vasectomy, but it is more complicated than a vasectomy and not as likely to be successful.
A vasectomy is only one method used to prevent pregnancy. You should discuss different birth control options with your doctor to understand which option is right for you.
Types of vasectomy
The types of vasectomy include:
- Conventional vasectomy involves making one or more small cuts in the scrotum (sac that holds the testicles) to access and cut the vas deferens.
- No-scalpel vasectomy involves making a small puncture in the scrotum. The urologist then pulls the vas deferens out of the small puncture hole to cut it.
Why is a vasectomy performed?
A vasectomy is a procedure that your doctor may recommend as a means of permanent birth control. A vasectomy is an option if:
- You are finished having children.
- You do not want to have children.
- You and your partner have a genetic incompatibility preventing you from having healthy children.
How is a vasectomy performed?
A urologist will perform your vasectomy in a doctor’s office, or sometimes an outpatient surgery center or hospital. A urologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.
The procedure will take less than a half hour and generally includes these steps:
- You will undress from the waist down and wear a surgical gown over your lap until the procedure.
- You will most likely recline on a procedure table. The urologist may move or tilt the table during your procedure. Some men prefer to stand during the procedure.
- A member of the surgical group will shave your scrotum if you have not already shaved it yourself prior to the procedure.
- A member of the surgical group will wash your scrotum with antiseptic solution to prevent infection.
- Your urologist will inject your scrotum with local anesthesia to prevent you from feeling pain. However, you will still feel some pulling and tugging sensations during the procedure. You may also receive a sedative to help you stay relaxed and comfortable.
- If you are having a conventional vasectomy, your urologist will make one or two small cuts in your scrotum. If you are having a no-scalpel vasectomy, your urologist will feel your scrotum from the outside to find the vas deferens. He or she will then make a small puncture in the scrotum to access the vas deferens.
- Your urologist will cut out a small portion of the vas deferens and cauterize (burn) and tie off the open ends.
- Your urologist may stitch up the incisions (or puncture) or may leave them to close on their own.
Will I feel pain?
Your comfort and relaxation is very important to both you and your care team. A vasectomy may involve relatively minor pain when the anesthetic needle enters your scrotum, as well as some discomfort caused by slight tugging and pulling sensations during the procedure. Take a few long, deep breaths to help yourself relax. If any discomfort does not pass quickly, tell a member of your healthcare team.
What are the risks and potential complications of a vasectomy?
The vast majority of vasectomy procedures are successful. However, complications of a vasectomy can occur and become serious. Complications of vasectomy may include:
- Adverse reaction or problems related to the local anesthesia, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing
- Bleeding of the incision or bleeding into the scrotum
- Granuloma, a lump that develops from leakage of sperm from cut vas deferens into the scrotum
- Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood
- Post-vasectomy pain syndrome, which is chronic pain following a vasectomy
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.