A vasectomy is a voluntary procedure for men who wish to no longer have children. It doesn’t affect a man’s ability to perform sexually or achieve orgasm.

What is a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a procedure that creates permanent sterility (the inability to have children) in a man. During the procedure, the two vas deferens are blocked in order to obstruct the flow of sperm out of the testicles. It is performed on an estimated 500,000 U.S. men a year. It does not affect a man’s ability to perform sexually or achieve orgasms and doesn’t visibly change semen.

How is Vasectomy performed?

Two techniques are available to perform a vasectomy. The traditional method uses a scalpel; the modern method is called the “no scalpel vasectomy.” Both methods are safe and effective when performed by an experienced physician.

Regardless of the method used, the procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic (numbing medicine) in a doctor’s office or procedure clinic. The procedure typically takes 15 – 30 minutes. Full recovery takes a few days, but slightly longer for the return to more strenuous activity and exercise.

Some Michigan Institute of Urology physicians can provide nitrous oxide also known as N2O or “laughing gas” to help you relax before the procedure begins. Other physicians offer a medication such as valium to help you relax.

During the procedure, the vas deferens is cut and the ends are sealed. Typically, a piece of each vas deferens is also removed. As a minimum, the ends of the vas deferens are sealed with cautery and the ends are normally physically separated. Some surgeons also use a combination of clips and/or sutures during the procedure.

Following a vasectomy, the sperm, with nowhere to go, are absorbed by the body.

Scalpel vs. No Scalpel Method

The end result of the procedure is the same regardless of the method used, however the instruments used are slightly different.

Most physicians at Michigan Institute of Urology utilize the “no scalpel vasectomy” approach since this minimally invasive procedure allows for a quick recovery and minimal discomfort. Urologists usually take advanced training to learn the procedure.

With the no-scalpel method, the physician will use special instruments (instead of a scalpel) to create a small opening in your body to reach the vas deferens. These instruments allow the procedure to be done with less manipulation of the body’s tissues.

After you’ve had a vasectomy, your prostate and seminal vesicle glands (which produce components of semen) will continue to make fluids, so the semen looks the same. Also, hormone levels are unaffected, so hair distribution, voice pitch, and sexual drive and sensations are unchanged.

Healing from a Vasectomy

We recommend lying down for six to eight hours after the procedure and placing an ice pack on the incision. Even though you may feel fine after your procedure, it’s important that you remain inactive and use an ice pack as instructed by your physician. You may experience swollen, achy testicles for a week or so after the procedure, as well as bruising in the scrotum.

You should avoid heavy lifting, exercise, and sexual intercourse for at least one week after the procedure, or longer as directed by your physician. A small, bloody discharge from the incision site is normal.

The following complications might occur in the first few days after surgery:

  • Hematoma: Though rare, a small blood vessel may leak in the scrotum, forming a clot. A small clot typically dissolves with time, but a larger one may require reopening and draining the scrotum.
  • Infection: Signs of infection include fever, chills, redness and swelling around the incision site.

Once healed your ability to perform sexually or achieve orgasm should not be affected.

It usually takes a few months before sterility is achieved, and typically 25 to 35 ejaculations are required to clear viable sperm from the reproductive system. Your physician will confirm sterility with a semen sample two to three months after the vasectomy. Partners should continue to use birth control until a physician determines complete sterility with a semen analysis. A vasectomy does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

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