Most of the half-million vasectomies performed annually in the U.S. are done as outpatient procedures with a local anesthetic.
Considered a permanent form of birth control for men, a vasectomy is a procedure that involves cutting and sealing the tube that transmits sperm.
While it is possible to reverse a vasectomy, this process is more complex than what’s done with a vasectomy. For this reason, men still wishing to father children are urged to consider having a sperm sample stored before going ahead with a vasectomy.
What Happens During a Traditional Vasectomy?
With a standard or traditional vasectomy, a small cut is made into the scrotum, which is shaved and cleaned prior to the procedure. The tube that carries semen from the testicle (vas deferens) is cut, heat-sealed, tied, or blocked to stop the flow of sperm during an ejaculation. After the same thing is done with the other side of the scrotum, incisions are closed with stitches or a special type of glue.
How is a No-Incision Vasectomy Different?
The main difference between a traditional and no-incision vasectomy is how the parts that will need to be altered are reached. This approach to the procedure is done with small holes rather than incisions, which eliminates the need for stitches. Instead, the skin is stretched with special instruments to reach the vas deferens so it can be removed, blocked in some way, and inserted back in place. Patients sometimes prefer this option since it often results in
- A procedure that’s usually performed in less time
- Less discomfort after the procedure is complete
- Reduced risks common with vasectomies (e.g., infection or bleeding)
- Faster healing and recovery
What Happens Before and After a Vasectomy?
Prior to having either form of a vasectomy, men are typically advised to avoid medications that may increase bleeding risks and have transportation to go back home after the procedure. Following the procedure, activity is usually limited for about 24 hours. However, excessive physical exertion, especially anything involving lifting, sports, or work-related movements in the lower part of the body, should be avoided for about a week or so. The scrotum is usually supported with tight-fitting underwear and a bandage for a few days post-vasectomy.
Sexual activity is also best avoided for about a week after the procedure. When intercourse does occur, birth control will still need to be used until follow-up testing, which is usually done 6-12 weeks post-procedure, confirms there is no semen in sperm samples. Men are typically advised to ejaculate about 15-20 times to remove any lingering traces of semen before having unprotected sex.
Both traditional and no-incision vasectomies are considered nearly 100 percent effective. While some men may have doubts about how this procedure may affect them sexually, a vasectomy does not alter a man’s ability to achieve an erection or carry out other sexual processes. There is also no research backing up past claims of a possible link between vasectomies and testicular cancer or an increased risk of heart disease. A urologist can provide further information during the initial discussion about this type of procedure.