A Snip in Time: Vasectomy

Men generally resume intercourse within two weeks with more than half of men reporting an increase in frequency

By J C Trussell, M.D.

J C Trussell is a urologist practicing at SUNY Upstate.
J C Trussell is a urologist practicing at SUNY Upstate.

The vasectomy is a popular and very effective form of permanent birth control. When compared to a tubal ligation, a vasectomy is simpler, faster, less expensive, safer and can be done under local anesthesia, with much less time off work. In fact, it is reasonable to return to non-physical work one day after the procedure.

It is important to meet your surgeon pre-operatively to discuss your health, surgical risk and expectations. You should expect the vasectomy to result in a permanent form of birth control.

Having said that, the vasectomy can fail — with an unintended pregnancy occurring in one of 2000 procedures.

A vasectomy does not produce immediate sterility. To minimize the risk of failure, birth control measures must continue until a post-procedure semen analysis shows no sperm — the first check typically occurring after two months. Secondly, to ensure proper healing of the vas tube, patients should refrain from ejaculation for one week post-operatively.

During the pre-op doctor visit, be sure to tell your doctor about any bleeding disorders or use of anti-coagulants (including aspirin). A physical examination will ensure there is no concurrent testis pathology (such as a tumors), hernias or sensitivity/difficulty palpating the vas deferens — whereby general anesthesia is preferred.

Although older literature may raise some post-vasectomy health concerns, large, well-performed, contemporary studies have shown no increased risk for: prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, dementia, testis cancer or lipid disorders.

In contrast to other surgeons who use two openings, I perform a delicate vasectomy using a single, midline scrotal opening no wider than a pea. After the procedure, which usually takes less than 15 minutes, the opening is closed with absorbable sutures, which do not need to be removed as they dissolve on their own.

Men generally resume intercourse within two weeks with more than half of men reporting an increase in frequency and/or improvement in sexual satisfaction, according to studies. Overall, 80-100 percent of vasectomized men would recommend the procedure to others, according to researchers.

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