Nearly half a million vasectomies are performed every year in the U.S., and most of the recipients are satisfied customers. Here are the most common questions received by Dr. Robert Mordkin, chief of urology at Virginia Hospital Center.
Does it require surgery on the testicles?
The procedure is done to the vas deferens, a small tube located in the scrotum which transports sperm away from the testicle. During a vasectomy, a urologist divides the tubing so that sperm never leave the testicles.
Will a vasectomy cause my body to change – my voice, demeanor, or sex drive?
Absolutely not. A vasectomy does not change testosterone production from the testicle at all nor does it impact sexual function in any way. In fact, neither a patient who has had a vasectomy nor their partner is able to tell it has been done.
How will I know the vasectomy is successful and I can't have any more kids?
After the procedure, it can take a few months to "clean out the pipes" so patients need to continue to use other forms of birth control until they've had a semen analysis that proves there are no longer any sperm.
What happens to the sperm?
They stay inside the testicles.
Can a vasectomy lead me to get testicular cancer?
Large population studies have shown that there are no increased risks for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or any other health effects from having a vasectomy.
What if I want to have more kids in the future? Can my vasectomy be reversed?
Yes, but reversing a vasectomy is a somewhat complex surgery which is not always successful. There are always sperm present inside the testicle so in vitro fertilization techniques are possible as well. Anybody contemplating a vasectomy, however, should make that decision presuming they are no longer interested in having more children.
Will I be awake during the vasectomy?
It depends on your urologist. Some do the procedure with the patient awake using a local anesthetic injected into the scrotum. Other surgeons, like me, prefer to offer patients a light sedation medication so they don't really feel anything during the brief procedure. Typically, it takes only 5 minutes to have it done.
How long will I need to recover from the procedure?
Discomfort after a vasectomy is relatively minor. Most men will need to take it easy from a few days, applying ice packs to the scrotum and using ibuprofen every 6 hours. The majority of patients return to work within 72 hours and are able to resume exercise and sexual activity within 1 week.
How does me having a vasectomy compare to my wife having her "tubes tied"?
A tubal ligation for a woman is a much more invasive procedure when compared to a man undergoing a vasectomy and carries a significantly higher risk of complications. The tubal ligation is done under a general anesthesia and the recovery can take up to a week rather than a few days. Since your wife had to go through 9 months of pregnancy not to mention the delivery of your child, it only seems fair that you "step to the plate and take a hit for the team."