Monday, March 01, 2010

Contraception - Vasectomy

Monday 1st March 2010

The Vasectomy is a simple and straightforward operation that stops sperm entering semen. It is a permanent form of contraception, but as a rule it shouldn't interfere with your sex life because you will still have erections and produce semen.

However, it's clear that a very small number of men do run into trouble after the operation. These include males who have psychological problems such as fear of castration.

Also, there is an uncommon condition called ‘sperm granuloma’, which is a painful little lump occurring in the scrotum as a result of leakage of sperm. If it causes pain, it can be removed surgically or treated with anti-inflammatory pills.

A few men get chronic (long-term) testicular pain after the operation. This is so uncommon that I personally have never seen a case in the UK.

However, in some countries – notably the USA – there has recently been a good deal of publicity about this ‘Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome’ (PVPS).

Nevertheless, vasectomy is a popular and routine operation these days, with about 18 per cent of British men having had ‘the snip’.

Provided you have thought it over carefully, any man can choose to be sterilised by having a vasectomy - though doctors are generally unwilling to do the operation on very young males, especially those without children.

Vasectomy is a much simpler procedure than the sterilisation of women and is almost always done on an outpatient basis – in other words, without having to stay in hospital. You can usually go home a couple of hours after the operation.

The actual surgical procedure sounds a bit alarming for most men, but there's usually very little pain and the operation is short.

These days, it's nearly always done under a local anaesthetic.

A few surgeons – mainly in private practice – like to do it while the patient is under a general anaesthetic. (Inevitably, this pushes the cost up quite a lot, because you have to pay for the anaesthetist and all his equipment and drugs.)

Did you know?

The tube that carries sperm to semen is called the vas.

Vasectomy means 'cutting out a piece of vas'.

  • You’ll be lying flat on your back. The surgeon will inject a little local anaesthetic into the skin of your scrotum, and after that you’ll feel no pain.
  • The surgeon makes a small cut in your scrotum. Working through this incision, he finds the slim, spaghetti-like tube that carries sperms upwards from your testicle. This tube is called the vas.
  • The surgeon cuts through the vas and then seals off the ends.
  • The surgeon does the same thing to the tube on the other side – and that’s it.
  • With modern techniques, the surgeon may not even need to use stitches. If there are any, they’ll probably be dissolvable.

There are minor variations in the way that different surgeons perform the operation.

  • The surgeon may do the whole procedure through one incision instead of two.
  • The surgeon may use the much advertised no-scalpel technique. Instead of an incision, the surgeon makes a small ‘puncture’ in the scrotum, and then inserts a slim instrument through it. Some private clinics now have a lot of experience with this technique.

Whatever the method, it’s generally all over within fifteen minutes.

Most men are just a bit sore and bruised afterwards, but a few develop bleeding, marked swelling or an infection (symptoms: pain and a temperature). If any of these things happen, contact a doctor.

Heavy bleeding is uncommon, but if it happens it could put you off work for several weeks.

You should wear an athletic support (a jock strap) for a week or so after the vasectomy to ease the discomfort. Getting into a warm bath is also very soothing.

Do not attempt any strenuous physical activity for at least a month after the op. Lifting a heavy weight could make a stitch slip and so cause bleeding, but this is uncommon.

After the operation, you will still have some sperm left in the tubes that lead to the penis. This means that you must use another contraceptive method for the time being.

About two to three months after your surgery, you'll need to have a semen test to see if all the sperm have gone. Many surgeons like to make really sure by doing two tests.

Once you have been reassured that no sperm can be seen in your ejaculate - under a microscope - then you can rely on your vasectomy without using any back-up contraception.

But there is still a tiny failure rate. Occasionally, men who have had vasectomies find they have sired a child. This is because the tubing has joined up again.

If you would like to know more about Vasectomy then please feel free to ask your questions in the comment box provided.

Source : Dr David Delvin for netdoctor

Image: djcodrin /



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