Vasectomy

Definition

Vasectomy is the most common non-diagnostic operation performed by urologists in the United States.  It is a procedure that divides the tubes that transports sperm. Compared to tubal ligation performed in women, which is also a method of permanent contraception, vasectomy is equally effective in preventing pregnancy; however, vasectomy is simpler, faster, safer and less expensive. Vasectomy is one of the most cost-effective of all methods of contraception; its cost is about one-fourth of the cost of tubal ligation.  Vasectomy requires less time off work, requiring only local rather than general anesthesia and is usually performed in a Greenville Health System Urologist’s office. The potential complications of vasectomy are less serious than those of tubal ligation.

Risk Factors

Your preoperative visit with the doctor will involve a discussion of the risks associated with vasectomy.  The rates of surgical complications such as symptomatic hematoma and infection are 1-2%. These rates vary with the surgeon’s experience and the criteria used to diagnose these conditions. In addition, chronic scrotal pain associated with negative impact on quality of life occurs after vasectomy in about 1-2% of men. Few of these men require additional surgery.  It is important to note that vasectomy is not 100% reliable in preventing pregnancy.  The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have post-vasectomy semen tests showing no sperm.

Treatment

Vasectomy can be performed in a variety of ways.  At Greenville Health System all of our surgeons perform the procedure in a minimally invasive fashion.  Although vasectomy is very well tolerated, you will be given a prescription for medicines to help with any anxiety and pain you may experience.  At the time of the procedure, your Urologist will numb the skin with local anesthesia (numbing medication) using a small needle.  Either one or two small (<1cm) holes will then be made and the vas deferens will be isolated.  A section of the vas deferens will be removed and each end will be clipped to prohibit the passage of sperm.

After vasectomy, we ask that you refrain from any strenuous exercise and apply cold packs to the scrotum for the first 72 hours.  We also ask that you avoid any aspirin products or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g.Motrin/ibuprofen, Alleve/naproxen, meloxicam) after the first 48 hours.  Scrotal support is also helpful in reducing post-vasectomy swelling and should be used.  We ask that you purchase a scrotal support, or “jock strap”, prior to your procedure. You should refrain from sexual activity or masturbation for 1 week after vasectomy.  Following vasectomy, another form of contraception is required until we have documented that you have no sperm in your ejaculate.  You will be asked to provide two semen samples (which can be collected at home) at 8 and 10 weeks to assist with this documentation.

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