What is a vasectomy?
Vasectomy is an operation, only performed on men, to prevent him having any more children. Sperm are made in the testicle, and a vasectomy blocks sperm getting from the testicle to the penis. That’s all it does, nothing else. When a man ejaculates normally, less than 1% of what comes out is sperm, the other 99% comes from the prostate gland. Because a vasectomy operation does not go anywhere near the prostate, that 99% is still there.
Why would a man get a vasectomy?
Many related reasons.
He and his partner are absolutely definite that they don’t want any more children.
They want near certainty about this, and no other contraceptive method can give that.
They are fed up with other contraceptives, especially condoms.
His partner cannot find a suitable contraceptive method. This is far from unusual.
He wants to play his part in this decision.
How safe are vasectomies?
There are two strands here.
Contraceptive safety or reliability. There is no argument about this – vasectomy is by a long way the most reliable of all contraceptive methods. However, even after an apparently successful vasectomy, when a semen test has been shown to be free from sperm, a pregnancy can still happen. It is estimated to happen once in every 60,000 years of an active sex life. Using condoms, one pregnancy every 2 years is the statistic. Big difference here.
Is the operation itself safe? The answer is yes, virtually always. It is a very minor procedure, performed with local anaesthetic, but as with all operations complications can occur. Thankfully, these are rare but can happen. Most are easily treated.
Is sex any different after having a vasectomy?
Most of the time – yes. It is much better.
No worries about pregnancy, no checking the time of the month. Where are those bloody condoms? Did I remember my pill, and so on?
Is it possible to have a Vasectomy reversal?
Yes, it is, but there are practicalities. Reversal is a far more complicated operation than a vasectomy, and in Ireland they are always done in hospitals with a general anaesthetic. They are also much more expensive, and private health insurance will not pay for it.
The success rate – meaning a baby born – is about 50%.
If you have a medical card, you may have to wait a long time on a waiting list.
Vasectomy aftercare – what is it?
There is not much. It is a very minor operation, with one single puncture in the scrotal skin, and virtually always no stitch.
The most important time is the day of the operation and the next day. Minimal physical activity, and good scrotal support sums it up. No bath or shower for those days. No contact sport like football for three weeks. You can find a detailed overview of Vasectomy Recovery here.