1. What is a vasectomy?
- Vasectomy is a permanent,
surgical sterilization procedure in which a portion of
each vas deferens (sperm tube) is removed. This prevents
the release of sperm cells into the ejaculate.
- It is intended for couples who are certain
that they do not want any more children.
2. How is a vasectomy performed?
- A local anesthetic (lidocaine,
xylocaine) is injected into the skin of the scrotum and
then along the vas deferens (vas).
- A small incision is made through
the skin, exposing the vas.
- A small segment of the vas is tied
off with suture or a metal clip, cut, and removed.
- Your doctor may then cauterize
(burn) the ends of the vas with an electrical current.
- The ends of the vas are then
returned to the scrotum.
- Your doctor may either place
absorbable sutures or briefly use a clamp to bring the
skin edges together.
- The procedure is then repeated on
the opposite side.
3. Are there risks, complications, or
- Any surgical procedure involves a
certain amount of risk, but the risk tends to be small
with a vasectomy.
generally minor. It tends to be worst when the local
anesthetic is injected.
tends to be minimal. Although, there is a small risk of a
large collection of blood in the scrotum (scrotal
hematoma). Rarely, a scrotal hematoma will need to be
drained. Bleeding can be minimized by avoiding
anti-inflammatory medicines (aspirin, Motrin, Naprosyn)
for 7-10 days prior to the procedure.
vasectomy-related infections are rare. Although, your
incisions may drain a small amount of straw colored fluid
for a couple days.
- Swelling and Brusing:
A small amount of swelling and skin discoloration is to
be expected. Swelling can be minimized by closely
following your doctor's post-op instructions concerning
using ice and limiting your activity after your
- Failure of the Procedure:
Even when performed correctly, a vasectomy will fail in
between 1 in 200 and 1 in 1500 cases. This is a lower
failure rate than other commonly used contraceptives.
- Removal of the Wrong
Tissue: Very rarely, a
portion of something other than the vas is removed. This
could result in permanent damage to or loss of the
4. Are there long-term side effects?
- Generally, no.
- Having a vasectomy will NOT
affect a man's sex drive or his ability to perform
sexually. A vasectomy is not castration.
- Ejaculation will not change other
than sperm cells not being present. There is no change to
the quantity, color, or consistency of the ejaculate.
- There is no increased risk of
- Urination is not affected as a
vasectomy is performed far away from the urethra and
5. Are there alternative birth control
- Yes. Most reliable methods either
alter a woman's reproductive hormones or block the
meeting of the egg and sperm.
- Highly effective birth control
methods are abstinence, oral contraceptive pills
("the pill"), the intrauterine device (IUD),
Depo-Provera injections ("the shot"), Norplant,
and tubal ligation.
- All of these methods except the
tubal ligation are intended to be reversible.
- Less effective methods include
withdrawal (pulling out), the rhythm method (natural
family planning), condoms, and a diaphragm.
- Please ask your doctor about the
advantages, drawbacks, and failure rates of these methods
if you have a question.
6. What do I need to do before the
- Obtain permission from your work to
miss 2 days and have a week of light duty before
scheduling the procedure.
- Have someone to drive you to and
from the clinic.
- Your doctor may ask you to shave
the scrotal area. Use electric clippers/beard trimmer the
night before the procedure. Do NOT use a
blade razor (Ouch!!). Only shave the scrotum, there is no
need to shave the rest of the pubic hair. Only shave if
asked to do so by your doctor.
- Shower with warm, soapy water
before the procedure.
- Wear workout clothes to the clinic
and bring either a jock strap or tight briefs to wear
home (No Boxers!!).
- Bring your health record to the
clinic on the day of your procedure.
7. How long does the procedure take?
- Generally, 30-60 minutes.
- Because of a tight schedule, it is
important to be on time to your procedure.
8. What about medication?
- Your doctor may give you a mild
sedative (Ativan or Valium) before the procedure to help
- Tylenol or Motrin is generally all
that is needed to control pain after a vasectomy.
Occasionally, your doctor may prescribe a narcotic pain
- Please inform your doctor if you
are taking any other medications.
9. How will my activity level be
- For the first 2 days, limited
activity is recommended.
- An ice pack wrapped in a dish towel
should be applied to the scrotum 3-4 times per day for
the first couple days after the vasectomy to minimize
- Two days off work is generally
recommended, followed by 7-10 days of light duty.
- Please inform your work prior
to scheduling a vasectomy.
- It is recommended that you wait at
least 4-5 days before resuming sexual activity.
10. Will I be sterile as soon as the
vasectomy is completed?
- It takes approximately 6 weeks or
15-20 ejaculations for sperm cells in the
"plumbing" system north of the vasectomy site
to be flushed out.
- You and your partner must
use another form of birth control until a semen analysis
shows no sperm.
- Contact your doctor 6 weeks after
your vasectomy to arrange for a semen analysis to ensure
you are sterile.
- If sperm are still present on the
first semen analysis, you will need to repeat the semen
analysis periodically until it shows no sperm. You
are still fertile until the seman analysis shows no sperm.
11. Any last words?
- A vasectomy is a permanent
- It is NOT for
couples who are uncertain about having more children.
- Your partner is encouraged to come
to your pre-op appointment or to call if she has any
- Call us as soon as possible if you
change your mind about having a vasectomy or if you need
to reschedule your procedure.
by Mike Grubbs, MD © 1997