What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a procedure that makes a man sterile, rendering the man incapable of fathering a pregnancy. In this operation, part of the tube that carries the sperm into the semen is cut and closed at the ends. (This tube is called the vas deferens.)

Should I have a vasectomy?

If you are certain that you don't want children, a traditional vasectomy or no-scalpel vasectomy could be right for you.

A word of caution: Although the decision to have a vasectomy should always be carefully considered, if you are under 25 years old, with no children, or if you are recently divorced, the decision to have a vasectomy should be made with extra caution.

Will the vasectomy hurt?

No! The modern no-scalpel vasectomy is almost painless. Many men say it is more of a "discomfort" than an actual pain. It is more like getting your teeth cleaned than getting a filling at the dentist.

Will vasectomy affect my masculinity?

No, after a vasectomy your sex drive, ability to ejaculate, have an erection or orgasm, is not affected. In fact many men report improvement in their sex life since they don't have to worry about pregnancy.

Vasectomy only blocks the release of sperm. It does not affect hormone production, cause hair loss or voice change.

How long is the recovery period?

It is recommended that you avoid heavy lifting or exertion for about a week. Most men try to schedule the procedure to allow at least 2 days to relax after. Complete healing can take up to a month.

Are there any possible complications?

Generally, complications are rare and minor. In less than 1% of cases, hematoma (an internal blood collection) and infection can occur. In 2% to 10% of cases, inflammation in various forms can develop, but is usually resolved with anti-inflammatory medications. Approximately 1 in 2,000 cases experience chronic discomfort, but this can usually be corrected.

Is a vasectomy reversible?

Yes, but it is expensive and there is no guarantee of fertility. A man should not consider vasectomy unless he is sure he never wants to father more children.

It can take a few months for the newly flowing sperm to mature and hopefully fertilize, but the fertility of the sperm is altered with time in ways that are not well understood. Successful pregnancy rate is about 70% when reversed in under 3 years, but falls to 40% after 7 years.

What about sperm banking?

For those considering a vasectomy who want "insurance," pre-vasectomy sperm banking or cryopreservation is another option.

Should I get a vasectomy or should my partner get her "tubes tied"?

Tubal ligation can be considered more dangerous since it requires a general anesthetic. It also has a higher failure rate than vasectomy. Also, a failed tubal ligation can result in an ectopic pregnancy, which is a potentially life threatening condition.

Are vasectomies linked to prostate cancer?

A few studies in the early '90s suggested a link between vasectomy and prostate cancer. A large number of subsequent studies have shown no such link. Most experts feel that vasectomized men see doctors more on average, so they are more likely to have cancer diagnosed. This does not mean that the vasectomy is the cause of that cancer in any way.

 Barry Rich, MD 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team