Birth control method for men: Vasectomy 101
Of all the contraceptive methods available, only two are for the male bodies. But these methods – male condoms and vasectomy – are also two of the most effective birth control methods out there.
While condoms are popular and common, not many people know about vasectomy – a safe and simple surgical procedure which cuts or blocks vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis.
It is a highly effective and safe male contraceptive method and estimated to be 99% effective. Fewer than 1% in every 100 women become pregnant in the first year after their partner has a vasectomy. However, it does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
How does it work?
This method works in a straightforward way; sperm – the male reproductive cell – is needed to fertilize an egg – the female reproductive cell for a pregnancy to start, and vasectomy cuts the pathway that allows the transportation of the sperm.
During sex, the penis ejaculates sperm as part of the semen (the liquid that comes out during an orgasm). The semen comprises three types of fluids:
- testicular fluid which consists of sperm and constitutes less than 1% of the overall fluids ejaculated;
- seminal fluid which is secreted by seminal vesicles that keep the sperm healthy and
- prostatic fluids which keeps the sperm alive and is nearly 99% of the total discharge.
After vasectomy, a man can ejaculate just as usual but there will be no sperm in the semen. This is an important fact because many men fear that they will not be able to ejaculate once they undergo a vasectomy.
Vasectomy is considered a permanent form of contraceptive, though reversal procedure is possible but is complicated.
Prior to a vasectomy, the doctor counsels the patient about all the possible side effects such as a low risk of bleeding and minor pain and infection. However, all these are manageable.
They doctor also debunks popular myths and misconceptions such as changes in sexual function, erection, orgasm and libido and increased risk of developing medical conditions such as dementia or prostate cancer.
After the patient signs the consent form, the doctor advises them about the medications that they should avoid such as aspirin or ibuprofen, due to the risk of excessive bleeding after the surgery.
Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure and a urologist often performs it. Some men share that they were nervous that the doctor was going to cut the “turkey” off. So what does the doctor do?
The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes. It can take place at a medical office or an outpatient clinic and the patient goes home the same day.
The doctor gives an injection to relieve pain in the scrotum or lower groin and waits for it to be numb.
They then make 1 or 2 incisions in the scrotum either by a scalpel or a pointed clamp. Then, they lift the vas deferens through the incision and cut and seal them at their ends.
The doctor closes the incisions with stitches, if need be. The patient can rest for a while until they are ready to go home.
One sterilized friend told his wife that he felt like the doctor was flossing his balls. Clearly, they don’t touch anything but the tubes that carry the “swimmers”.
Recovering at home
There may be minimal pain, swelling and small amount of bloody discharge from the incision area between the first and the third day. This is normal. Doctors recommend bed rest during this time.
To help make the recovery more comfortable;
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling; do not apply them directly on the skin.
- Take painkillers as advised by your doctor; but avoid aspirin.
- Wait 48 hours before bathing
- Avoid any strenuous activity like heavy lifting or exercises for a week.
Recovery period may last about a week. One may find walking a bit funny owing to the bruising and the slight swelling of the scrotum. But for most patients, it is not a scary experience.
When to get medical care
In very rare and exceptional circumstances, a patient may find the pain and swelling gradually increase rather than reduce. They may also experience high body temperatures and chills, redness and excessive drainage at the point of incision or painful urination.
All these symptoms may indicate a creeping infection which would warrant attention of the doctor.
Sex after vasectomy
Vasectomy does not have any impact on one’s sexual performance, ejaculation, erectile function or sex drive.
A sterilized man still will ejaculate and experience sexual pleasure as before the vasectomy.
The semen quality, amount and texture remain the same. The first few ejaculations may feel uncomfortable however that discomfort diminishes over time.
The semen may still contain sperm for up to 20 ejaculation episodes. That’s why the doctors normally advise you to take your ejaculate for lab testing for a period of 6 to 12 weeks. During this period, doctors advise the use of other contraceptive methods till the sperm test comes out negative.
As mentioned earlier, vasectomy does not prevent STIs, hence if you have more than one sexual partner, use a condom.
Some men fear that vasectomy will take away their manliness but this fear is totally unfounded. The testosterone hormone is secreted through the bloodstream and continues to circulate through the man’s body to produce and maintain the manly features.
As one sterilized man opined: “I still wanna pursue girls but I don’t want any more babies along the way”, vasectomy does actually liberate men from the fears of getting someone pregnant in their college life or having yet another baby during their retirement.
Do you have something to share? Leave your comments below, contact us on our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on contraception, visit findmymethod.org
About the author: Martin Mūthare is a licensed clinical officer and a public health practitioner.