Conditions & Treatments

Vasectomy & Vasectomy Reversal

Vasectomy is the most effective available mode of male contraception. The procedure involves interruption or occlusion of the vas deferens, and is typically performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. Reported rates of successful infertility for vasectomy exceed 98 percent.

Besides the fact that a vasectomy is very popular, one must remember that there is no form of fertility control, except abstinence, which is completely free of potential complications. In all, vasectomy remains one of the safest and best forms of permanent contraception, provided that the patient is aware of and understands the potential risks associated with the procedure. The side effects and complications of vasectomy are divided into “early” and “late” categories, depending on when they occur. The risks and complications of the procedure, including potential vasectomy pain, are examined below in greater detail.

Treatment

If sedation was not used, then the patient may drive himself home. Any discomfort is usually mild, and pain relievers should be used if needed. The local anesthetic begins to wear off after an hour or so. Recovery time after a no-scalpel vasectomy is usually a little less than that after a traditional vasectomy. The following are general guidelines that help ensure a speedy recovery (talk with the doctor who did the procedure for specific instructions):

Apply an ice pack or package of frozen peas (or other such package) to the scrotum for the first 24 hours after the procedure. Wrap the ice pack in a towel. Do not place ice directly on the skin.

Avoid walking or standing as much as possible for a couple of days.

Wear snug cotton briefs or an athletic supporter to help apply pressure against the procedure area and for support of the scrotum for the first week or two after the procedure. Avoid heavy lifting or exercise for at least 2 to 3 days. Doctors commonly allow a return to work within 1 to 2 days unless the job involves physical exertion. In general, avoid activities that cause discomfort.

Wait at least a week before resuming sexual activity; use birth-control methods until the doctor indicates the patient is sterile (see below). Semen will be collected (usually at home) approximately six to 12 weeks after surgery (and possibly even later) and examined under a microscope at the doctor's office or with a new home test kit called SpermCheck Vasectomy Home Test (Alere) to make certain that no sperm remain.

Vasectomy reversal reconnects the pathway for the sperm to get into the semen. Most often, the cut ends of the vas are reattached. In some cases, the ends of the vas are joined to the epididymis. These surgeries can be done under a special microscope ("microsurgery"). When the tubes are joined, sperm can again flow through the urethra.

There are many reasons to undo a vasectomy. You might remarry after a breakup or have a change of heart. Or you might want to start a family over after the loss of a loved one.