Vasectomy is a surgical procedure during which the vas deferens - the tubes that carry sperm from the testes - are severed. Vasectomy is a very safe and permanent means of male contraception, though it can be reversed should the need arise.
Although the written consent of a partner is not required, it is important to discuss the operation with a partner. Responsible doctors will discuss the details of the vasectomy procedure and its effects. Many will then suggest you take some extra time, often 30 days, to reflect on whether this is the contraceptive method you really want.
A vasectomy is a relatively quick procedure that takes about 30 minutes and is performed using a local anesthetic. This reduces post-operative recovery time and minimizes the side effects sometimes associated with a general anesthetic. Local anesthetic also reduces costs. After the procedure a man can go home the same day and be back to work within two or three days.
The Vasectomy Operation
A local anesthetic is administered prior to the operation. The vas deferens are operated on one at a time. A very small incision is made and the tube is cut then sutured, cauterized, or clipped, in order to close them off.
In a no-scalpel vasectomy, a special forceps punctures (rather than cuts) the skin. In the one tiny puncture both tubes are tied off, cauterized or blocked. This procedure does not require any sutures.
Both types of vasectomy have the same result: the man becomes sterile because sperm is kept out of the seminal fluid. The sperm continue to be produced in the testes but are absorbed into the body with no ill effects. What this means is you will still ejaculate fluid as before, but without the sperm in it, and there is no danger of an unwanted pregnancy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that couples continue to use alternative contraception for 3 months after the procedure. Two samples of ejaculate from about 12 weeks (or after about 12 ejaculations) will confirm that no sperm are present.
Vasectomy Side effects and Surgical Complications
As with any surgical procedure, there can be some side effects, but major complications are very rare.
Pregnancy Following a Vasectomy
In rare cases, pregnancy has occurred following vasectomy. The causes include a failure in the surgical procedure, the man not using additional contraceptive methods in the three months following the procedure, or complications following the vasectomy.
The U.S. Agency for International Development states that failure rates for vasectomies range from 0.2 to 0.4 percent. The Centers for Disease Control have estimated a probability of failure in 11 per 1,000 procedures over two years. Half of the failures occur in the first three months after the vasectomy. Recent research shows that men often do not go for follow-up semen analysis after their vasectomy.
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