What is vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed to make a man sterile or unable to father a child. It's a permanent male birth control measure, and a means of contraception used in many parts of the world.

Generally, vasectomy leaves the patient unchanged except that the vas deferens—the tubes leading to the testes—are blocked. The testes still produce sperm, but the sperm die and are absorbed by the body. A man who has had a vasectomy still produces semen and is able to ejaculate, but the semen doesn't contain sperm and is unable to fertilize a woman’s egg. The level of testosterone, libido, and other sexual characteristics remain the same. For most men, the ability to have an erection is not affected.

Among married couples in the U.S., most rely solely on female sterilization and oral contraception for family planning.

What are the different types of vasectomy?

  • Conventional vasectomy. The conventional method is a surgical procedure that involves small incisions made on each side of a man's scrotum. The vas deferens is cut and sealed in order to stop sperm from reaching the prostate (where it mixes with the semen). Without sperm in the semen, a man can't make his partner pregnant.

  • No-scalpel or nonsurgical vasectomy. In the no-scalpel method, rather than making an incision, the doctor makes only one tiny puncture into the skin with a special instrument. This same instrument is used to gently stretch the skin opening so that the tubes can be reached easily. The tubes are then blocked, using the same method as in a conventional vasectomy. Because no incision was made, there is little bleeding and no stitches are needed to close the tiny opening. The opening will heal quickly with little or no scarring.

Can a man have unprotected sex right after a vasectomy?

Although a man can usually resume sexual activity soon after vasectomy, precautions should be taken against pregnancy until a test shows that his semen is completely free of sperm.

A vasectomy procedure only blocks the vas deferens at the point where it was sealed. The vasectomy has no effect on sperm that are already beyond that point. Therefore, it's important to not have unprotected sexual intercourse until the absence of sperm from the ejaculate has been confirmed with two negative sperm checks, four to six weeks apart. Generally, the test is first performed after the patient has had 10 to 20 post-vasectomy ejaculations.

What are the risks or side effects associated with a vasectomy?

Although complications, such as swelling, bruising, inflammation, and infection, may occur after the surgery, they aren't common and usually aren’t serious. Men who develop the following symptoms, as defined by the NICHHD, at any time should contact their doctors:

  • Epididymitis or orchitis. Epididymitis or orchitis (painful, swollen, and tender epididymis, or testis) may occur after vasectomy. This local inflammation most often occurs during the first year after surgery.

  • Immune system reactions. After vasectomy, the testes continue to make sperm. When the sperm cells die, they are absorbed by the body, just as they are in a man who hasn't had a vasectomy. However, sometimes following a vasectomy, men develop immune reactions to sperm. Sperm usually don't come in contact with immune cells, so they don't elicit an immune response. But vasectomy breaches the barriers that separate immune cells from sperm, and men can develop antisperm antibodies after the surgery. Some doctors and researchers are concerned that these self-targeting immune reactions could cause disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile diabetes, and multiple sclerosis are some of the illnesses suspected or known to be caused by immune reactions of this type.

  • Prostate cancer risk. Some studies have raised questions about a possible relationship between having a vasectomy and the risk of developing prostate cancer—the most common cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer death (after lung cancer). Other studies have shown no increase in prostate cancer among men who have had a vasectomy.

Consult your doctor regarding any concerns you may have about vasectomy.

Vasectomy Reversal

A vasectomy reversal restores fertility by reconnecting the ends of the severed vas deferens, or by connecting the vas deferens to the epididymis. There are plenty of reasons to get a vasectomy reversal, but the most common reasons are remarriage following a divorce, or simply having a change of heart about starting a family.

So, how is it done? We recommend the microsurgical approach. The use of an operating microscope provides better results, as it allows the urologist to magnify structures from five to 40 times their actual size. This makes it easier to manipulate stitches smaller in diameter than an eyelash to join the ends of the vas.

Vasectomy Reversal Recovery Time

Recovery from a vasectomy reversal should be relatively smooth and less painful than the original vasectomy. Only 25 percent of all men who receive a vasectomy reversal say that the pain is greater than the original vasectomy. However, if you are experiencing pain, contact your doctor. He or she will be able to prescribe an oral medication that will help alleviate the pain. Luckily, if you happen to require medication for the pain you’re experiencing, that pain normally only lasts up to a week’s time, at which point you’ll be able to return to your normal routine.

Heavy lifting and other strenuous physical activities should be avoided for at least two to three weeks following your vasectomy reversal. If you can’t avoid heavy lifting due to work or other obligations, consult with your doctor before getting started. Wearing a jockstrap for at least two to three weeks for support is a general recommendation you might receive.

Much like following the original vasectomy, there is a waiting period before you can resume sexual activity after a vasectomy reversal. The normal waiting period is roughly two to three weeks. On average, it takes about one year to achieve pregnancy following a vasectomy reversal, though there have been some cases where pregnancy was achieved in two to three months.

Other Vasectomy Reversal Factors

  • AGE. Your age should not be an issue. Men continue to produce sperm from their testicles for many years after their partners are no longer ovulating.

  • INEFFECTIVE REVERSALS. In the hands of experienced microsurgeons, success rates for repeat reversals are generally similar to those of first reversals. If a vasectomy reversal fails, then your urologist will review your previous procedure to check for present sperm in the fluid obtained from the lower end of the vas deferens from your previous procedure. If sperm was present, then a repeat vasovasostomy can be performed.

Where do I get a vasectomy or reversal?

You can get a vasectomy in Oklahoma from any one of our award-winning urologists throughout the state, including Oklahoma City, Yukon, Edmond, Enid and Miami. For more information on our hospitals, visit our locations page.

© 2017 INTEGRIS Health Pencil
Oklahoma's largest hospital network
3300 N.W. Expressway
Oklahoma City, OK 73112 Phone: (405) 951-2277
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