Vasectomy: What You Should Know

A vasectomy is an operation for a man, so that their partner can’t get pregnant.

The procedure, which you can get done in a doctor’s office without being “asleep,” stops sperm from being able to leave the testes. With no sperm entering the woman, she won’t get pregnant.

Your doctor may call it “male sterilization.” Men can still have an orgasm or ejaculate afterward.

How Effective Is It?

It’s nearly 100% effective. In very rare cases, the man’s tubes, called the vas deferens, can rejoin. In those cases, a pregnancy could happen.

Keep in mind that sperm can still get out for a little while right after a vasectomy. So be sure to get the follow-up test that checks on that, so you know when you can stop using another method of birth control just in case.

How Is a Vasectomy Done?

The surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away.

Some men get a "no-scalpel" vasectomy, which uses very small holes instead of cuts and doesn’t require stitches.

What Happens Afterward?

You'll probably feel sore for a few days. You should rest for at least 1 day. But 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.

When Can a Man Have Sex Again After a Vasectomy?

Give it a few days, and use birth control until you get a test that shows that your semen is free of sperm. You can get this test after you've had 10-20 ejaculations after the vasectomy.

If the results show that you still have sperm in your semen, your doctor will ask you to come back at a later date to take the test again. That’s the only way you'll know if you're in the clear.

Can I Get It Reversed if I Change My Mind?

In some cases, it’s possible. But reversing a vasectomy isn’t easy and doesn’t always work. So you shouldn’t get the procedure unless you're sure you won’t want to be able to get a woman pregnant in your future.

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Are There Side Effects?

The procedure is very safe. Complications aren’t common, but if they happen, they can include swelling, bruising, inflammation, and infection. These are almost never serious, but tell your doctor if you have symptoms.

The procedure will not affect your testosterone level, erections, climaxes, sex drive, or any other part of your sex life.

Does a Vasectomy Make Prostate Cancer More Likely?

The research on this is mixed. The American Cancer Society says that some studies have suggested that men who have vasectomies may be slightly more likely than other men to get prostate cancer, but that other studies haven’t found such a link.

The most current findings show that a vasectomy does not raise a man's risk of getting prostate cancer, and that this concern should not be a reason to avoid having one.

Does Vasectomy Protect Against STDs?

No. You’ll still want to use a male condom for the best protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on January 21, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Male Sterilization.”

Beaumont Health System: “Vasectomy.”

American Cancer Society: “What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?”

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