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    Birth Control and Sterilization

    (continued)

    What Happens After the Vasectomy?

    After a vasectomy, you will probably feel sore for a few days. You should rest for at least one day. However, you can expect to recover completely in less than a week. Many men have the procedure on a Friday and return to work on Monday.

    Are There Side Effects of a Vasectomy?

    Although vasectomy complications such as swelling, bruising, inflammation, and infection may occur, they are relatively uncommon and almost never serious. Nevertheless, men who develop these symptoms at any time should inform their doctor.

    When Can a Man Have Sex Again After a Vasectomy?

    You can resume sexual activity within a few days after a vasectomy, but birth control should be used until a test shows that your semen is free of sperm. Generally, this test is performed after you have had 10-20 post-vasectomy ejaculations. If sperm are still present in the semen, you will be asked to return at a later date for a repeat test. Once sperm are absent from the ejaculate, other forms of contraception may be discontinued. The chance of pregnancy, however, is not zero. Due to a process known as spontaneous recanalization (tubes rejoining), pregnancies may occur after vasectomy, although this is very rare.

    What Are the Disadvantages of a Vasectomy?

    The chief disadvantage of a vasectomy is its permanence, although this is also considered the chief advantage. The procedure itself is simple, but reversing it is difficult, expensive, and can be unsuccessful. But, it is possible to store semen in a sperm bank to preserve the possibility of producing a pregnancy at some future date. However, doing this is costly, and the sperm in stored semen do not always remain viable (able to cause pregnancy).

    For all of these reasons, doctors advise that a vasectomy be undertaken only by men who are prepared to accept the fact that they will no longer be able to father a child. The decision should be considered along with other contraceptive options and discussed with a professional counselor. Men who are married or in a serious relationship should also discuss the issue with their partners.

    Although it is extremely effective for preventing pregnancy, a vasectomy does not offer protection against AIDS or other STDs. Consequently, it is important that vasectomized men continue to use condoms, preferably latex, which offer considerable protection against the spread of disease.

    Another disadvantage is the immune reactions to sperm that some men develop after a vasectomy, although current evidence indicates that these reactions do not cause any harm.

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