Procedure remains popular contraceptive for men

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

With all the varieties of contraceptives available, are vasectomies still popular? Area experts say yes — and for good reasons.

“There are very few birth control methods for men,” said urologist J.C. Trussell, associate professor with Upstate Urology. “The interest in vasectomy has increased compared with the 1980s.”

Vasectomy costs about one-third that of female sterilization via tubal ligation.

Trussell explained that although vasectomy is a surgical procedure, it’s performed under local anesthesia as an out patient surgery. Only 5 to 10 percent of men experience chronic scrotum pain, and only a small percentage of those find it to be life-changing.

The chances of injury to the blood supply can cause loss of testicle, but less than 1 percent of men experience this side effect, according to Trussell. Less than 5 percent of men experience bruising and infection.

Ryan Sidebottom, urologist with Upstate Urology of Auburn, said that the new “no-scalpel” technique provides “a minimally invasive way of doing it, as it uses one poke in the center of the scrotum. We can bring out the vas deferens and separate the connection.

“Some guys wonder why they were so worried, once it was done. It’s a very tolerable procedure,” Sidebottom said.

Despite local popularity of vasectomy, the US overall lags behind Canada and the UK, according to United Nations figures. American women experience double the tubal ligations as men experience vasectomy; however, the large number of cesarian sections performed in the US may account for some of that figure, since for couples done having babies, it’s easier to go ahead with sterilization for the partner who’s already undergoing surgery.

Misconception about Vasectomy

• Few other men seek vasectomy. “It’s actually quite popular. There are very few birth control methods for men.”

• Tubal ligation of women is better. “Vasectomy is cheaper and safer and less risk of failure compared with tubal ligation for women. It’s easily covered by nearly all insurance.”

• Recovery is difficult and sex is off-limits for a long time. “After the surgery and three days’ rest, they can have sex but with protection. Eighty percent of guys clear at two months. Other may require a few more ejaculations to get sperm count to zero. I use very specialized instruments that allow for a very delicate dissection of the vas tubes. There’s very little downtime. I do a lot on Thursday or Friday so by Monday, they’re back to work.”

• It likely won’t work. “The chance of failure is less than 1 percent, compared with 3 percent for tubal ligation.”

J.C. Trussell, associate professor and urologist with Upstate University Hospital’s Urology Department.

• Tubal ligation has the same recovery time. “Vasectomy has a much shorter recovery time.”

• Vasectomy is very painful. “There’s a fear guys have, which is understandable, but it has a fast recovery time.”

• Vasectomy is easily reversible. “Vasectomy should be considered only by men who are sure they are done having children.”

Ryan Sidebottom, urologist with Upstate Urology of Auburn and privileges at Auburn Community Hospital.