Head of Department of Surgery, JIPMER, Pondicherry
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a permanent method of birth control for males. In this method, the tubes that carry sperms from the testes to the penis called vas are divided by an operation. This prevents sperm from being released in the semen during ejaculation. It can be offered to any man who wishes to be sterilized permanently. Although vasectomy can be reversed, the reversal may not work always.
How is the procedure performed?
The consent of the couple is taken. The doctor numbs each side of the scrotum with a local anaesthetic (numbing medicine). The operation is usually done through a small cut in the scrotum. The vas deferens (the tubes that carry the sperms) is pulled out and a part of it is removed or interrupted by various methods. The two cut ends of the vas deferens are sealed and placed back in the scrotum. The cuts in the skin are closed with stitches.
The whole procedure usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. The patient can go home after the procedure is completed. There may be some pain in the groin for 3 or 4 days after the operation. Some blood or yellow fluid may come out from the cuts on the skin. The area around the cuts may swell a bit. Pain relieving medicines and ice packs can be used to help with pain and discomfort. In some cases, a procedure called no-scalpel vasectomy is performed. In this the size of the skin cut is so small as to be barely noticeable.
How effective is the procedure?
A vasectomy is usually 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, during the first few weeks following the procedure another form of birth control method must always be used until the doctor confirms that the ejaculate does not contain sperm. Vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
What are the complications after the procedure?
In rare cases, there can be infection or a haematoma, which is a collection of blood, in the area where surgery was performed.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Vasectomy is a very effective and permanent method of birth control. There are no pills to take or devices to insert, and there is no interruption of sex. One is only required to use condoms or some other birth control methods for the first 20 ejaculations or for 3 months after the procedure. There are no apparent long-term health risks involved during or after the procedure.