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  • Milton Village Medical

Vasectomy! Everything you need to know

Is getting a vasectomy worth it?

Are you done having kids? Great! Then yes, it’s definitely worth considering it.

If you are in generally good health, and your partner and you decide that your family is complete it would be nice to have a moment together without having to worry about life-altering consequences.

A vasectomy is almost 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy after three months, and you can get it reversed (although success rates for a reversal range from 40 to 90 percent).

Will the vasectomy hurt?

The only real pain you feel is the initial anaesthetic. You may feel a sensation of deep, nauseating discomfort. Everything down there is numb, but you'll feel tugging, pulling and pressure

Could something go wrong?

It’s a surgical procedure, and with that comes risks, primarily hematoma (bleeding) and infection. But overall, it’s considered safe and effective.

What’s the post-op pain like?

It can be a dull, generalized soreness, accompanied by what feels like low-grade stomach ache.

How long until I’m back at 100 percent?

Usually 10 to 14 days, but everyone is different. You’ll want to stay off your feet for the first 24 to 48 hours.

What about sex?

“Go for it when you’re ready” - things will be delicate, but not painful. Once again, the main feeling you’ll have is anxiety of not knowing what it’s going to feel like and whether you’ll be back to your old self.

History of the vasectomy

In Australia, sterilisation of either males or females was considered illegal and immoral until the 1970s. Through the agitation of Dr Ian Edwards, a Sydney doctor in the 1970s, Humanist Societies in each Australian state gave ethical clearance to the procedure, as did the Australian Medical Association. Through practice, the procedure came to be regarded as legal in all Australian states. Vasectomy rapidly gained popularity; some 27,000 procedures were performed in 1974.

What is a vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure for male sterilisation, that is, surgery which makes a man unable to conceive. It involves severing the vas deferens (the tube linking the testicles to the ejaculatory ducts in the penis) and in most cases blocking or tying one or both of the severed ends. This effectively blocks the path by which sperm leave the testes and therefore makes a man permanently sterile.

Who uses vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a permanent method of male sterilisation and is therefore used by men who have no wish to father children in the future, and who wish to eliminate the risk of their partner/s conceiving. Sterilisation (of both men and women) is now the principle method of contraception used throughout the world. Globally, some 42 million men have previously undergone vasectomy.

In Australia, more than 30,000 vasectomy procedures are performed each year and it is estimated that one in four men will have a vasectomy at some point in his life.

Effectiveness of vasectomy

Vasectomy is a highly effective method of permanent contraception. In the early stages following a vasectomy (i.e. the first six months) there is a failure rate of around 2%, mainly due to spontaneous recanalisation (the growth of small tubes linking the severed ends of the vas deferens, creating an alternative route via which sperm can travel from the testes to the ejaculatory ducts). However, failure of the procedure at this stage is generally picked up during post-vasectomy semen analysis, before the man is given clearance to stop using alternative contraceptives. Unwanted pregnancy occurs after approximately 1 in 2,000 vasectomy procedures, although the actual failure rate after initial clearance to cease contraceptive use is given appears to be much higher.

Semen analysis

Semen analysis is conducted after the vasectomy to assess whether sperm stored in the epididymis and ejaculatory gland has been cleared, and whether or not the procedure was successful. It is a crucial step in the vasectomy process as, until it is confirmed, the man remains potentially fertile and must continue to use alternative contraceptive methods.

In Australia, the Royal Australia College of Surgeons recommend a post-vasectomy semen analysis test three months and at least 20 ejaculations after the procedure.

Written by Dr Stephen Lawson

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