A vasectomy is an operation performed on a man to make him sterile. The operation involves cutting and tying the two vas tubes which carry sperm from the testicles, where they are made, to the urethra, which is the tube in the penis that transports both semen and urine.
Sperm is still produced by the testicles after the operation but is reabsorbed by the body once it reaches the blind end of the cut vas tubes.
The testicles also produce the male sex hormone testosterone which is responsible for a man's sex drive and his maleness. These functions are not affected at all by a vasectomy operation.
HOW IS IT DONE?
I perform the vasectomy under local anaesthetic in my surgery.
One sinall cut is made on each side of the scrotum which is the bag containing the testicles. Because these cuts are so small, they heal without requiring stitches. After the operation which takes about forty minutes, a dressing is applied to the area to keep it clean.
WILL I HAVE TO SEE THE DOCTOR BEFORE I HAVE THE VASECTOMY?
Some men have genuine fears about having a vasectomy and others have questions about the operation which should be answered before it is carried out.
I think it is important to explain all the issues surrounding the decision to have a vasectomy and to outline how to prepare for the procedure. For these reasons, and to examine the patient to ensure there are no physical problems which may interfere with the surgery, I insist on seeing the patient for a pre-op counselling session prior to the operation itself.
WHAT ABOUT AFTER THE OPERATION?
After a vasectomy the man has an orgasm in the usual way with fluid squirting from the end of the penis.
This fluid will be slightly less in volume than before the operation and will contain no sperm cells, but will otherwise be exactly the same as before the vasectomy.
The most important determinant of how well a patient feels in the immediate post operative period is how well he looks after himself.
I usually recommend he takes at least two or three days off work and avoids heavy lifting or exercise for one week.
I will discuss other short term complications at the pre-op meeting.
WHEN IS IT SAFE?
The operation is not considered effective until three months have passed and the patient has provided a negative (that is zero) sperm count approximately twelve weeks after the operation. If this test is not negative it may need to be repeated and in some cases the vasectomy may have to be performed again.
I will give instructions on how to obtain the sperm samples at the time of operation.
It is important to realise that there is a small long term risk of failure with a vasectomy. This is about 1:2000, which compares very favourably with the failure rate of 1:200 for a woman having her tubes tied.
IS A VASECTOMY REVERSIBLE?
It is usually possible to rejoin the cut ends of the vas but this does not always lead to a man becoming fertile again. Also a vasectomy reversal is a far more complex and expensive procedure to perform and will need to be carried out by a specialist.
Some men may wish to consider freezing some sperm and storing it in a sperm bank for use later. This option can be discussed with me before the operation.
LONG TERM HEALTH RISKS.
It is normal for a small lump of scar tissue to develop at the site of the cut vas and this is usually painless. If however a painful lump develops it may need to be removed by a specialist in another small operation.
Some studies suggest a link between vasectomy and the later development of prostate cancer but others do not. At the present time the evidence is inconclusive and I suggest you discuss it with me.
Though it is rare some men can experience long term scrotal pain.
If you have some questions or want to make an appointment, please phone me at the number below.