A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure involving permanent sterilization. This form of male contraception is relatively common — about 500,000 American men a year have the surgery. This method is almost 100% effective as it cuts off the body’s ability to release sperm.

The Procedure

The focus of the surgery is on the vas deferens, the tubes sperm travel through from the testes. During the sterilization method, the vasectomy doctor, or Urologist, will block or cut each of these tubes, preventing sperm from mixing with other body fluids to form semen.

Vasectomies are generally a one-day procedure allowing you to return home the same day of your surgery. They may be performed in either the Jackson Urology office or, at the doctor’s discretion, at a hospital or surgery center under local anesthetic. The doctor will also ask you to sign a consent form allowing the Urologist to perform the vasectomy in accordance with state law.

Right before the surgery, the genitals will be shaved and washed with antiseptic. Anesthesia may be offered at this stage to eliminate pain and is dependent on the individual.

There are two different types of procedure the vasectomy doctor, or Urologist, will perform: the incision method and the no-scalpel method. The incision method includes one or two small cuts on the scrotum, the searing and suturing of the vas deferens and closed with either dissolvable stitches. Stitches may not always be required. A no-scalpel surgery is less invasive, as the Urologist will feel for the vas deferens, hold it with a clamp and a small hole is made with forceps as the doctor sears and sutures the vas deferens externally after being placed back inside the scrotum. Both methods are equally effective forms of male contraception.

After the procedure

Most vasectomies complete without complication. There is a small risk of bleeding in the scrotum, which is normal but should be monitored by the Jackson Urologist who performed the vasectomy. If there is any unusual soreness or redness accompanied by a fever, alert the doctor to a potential infection.

The most common side effect is post-vasectomy pain syndrome, the feeling of a steady pain in the testes. It is treated with anti-swelling medication.

The Urologist will give more explicit instructions for self-care after the sterilization method, but it is recommended to abstain from sex or any extreme exertion and heavy lifting for a few days. Most men find with an occasional ice pack and abstinence, they fully heal in a week’s time.

A vasectomy does not limit ability to ejaculate. The body will still produce both sperm and semen, however the sterilization method prevents them from mixing. Three months after the process is complete, semen should be almost completely devoid of sperm. When sperm is not able to leave the testes, it is simply reabsorbed by the body. Semen remains unchanged in terms of look, color and texture, it simply has no sperm and thus, cannot cause pregnancy.

Your Jackson Urologist will continue checking your sperm, as about 20% of men still have sperm in their semen after the initial three-month check-up. Until the doctor gives you the all-clear, you should continue using another form of birth control.

Vasectomies are a common, simple surgical procedure that will not leave you impotent. Microsurgery can later be performed to reattach the vas deferens in the event you want a vasectomy reversed. Sperm can also be taken from the testes and used via in vitro fertilization.