Vasectomy procedure: What it is and what to expect – Insider

Vasectomies are the second-most common form of permanent contraception in the US, next to tubal ligation.

They're also the most effective form of male birth control available with a failure rate of less than .01%.

So if you're certain you don't want kids, or you're done having children, a vasectomy is a relatively quick and easy procedure worth considering.

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that severs the tubes carrying sperm from the testicles to the penis, says Eric Springer, MD, a urologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The procedure does not impact testosterone production or sex drive. And the testicles will continue to produce sperm. However, with the vas deferens (aka tubes) severed, sperm can't be ejaculated. Instead, sperm cells eventually die and, like other dead cells, are absorbed by the body.

Important: While you can reverse a vasectomy, it is costly and does not always lead to a successful pregnancy. Therefore, a good candidate for a vasectomy is someone who is sure they are done having children and wants to prevent future pregnancies, Pineda says.

There are two types of vasectomies:

Both methods aim to prevent sperm from traveling to the penis, Springer says, but the no incision method heals faster, has minimal scarring, and comes with a lower risk of infection.

What's the cost? Most insurance carriers cover vasectomies, though the exact cost will vary depending on your plan's co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs, says Springer. Without insurance, a vasectomy can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.

Vasectomies are typically done in a urologist's office under local anesthesia, Springer says. The procedure takes about 10 to 30 minutes and typically includes the following steps:

The procedure is mostly painless except for the numbing medication which may feel uncomfortable, Springer says. After the numbing medication is in place, you should not feel anything sharp, only some tugging or pressure.

However, to reduce any potential pain or complications, Elmer B. Pineda, MD, a urologist with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center recommends:

Recovery time can vary from a couple days to a full week, Springer says.

A week after the procedure is when it is considered safe to have sex and ejaculate again, Springer says. However, you are not infertile until a semen analysis is performed two to three months after the procedure.

Therefore, Springer suggests using other forms of birth control until your doctor has confirmed the vasectomy was successful.

Compared to other forms of birth control, a vasectomy has a few stand out benefits like being:

In short, a "vasectomy is the safest, simplest, and least expensive form of permanent contraception," Springer says.

The most common side effects of a vasectomy are related to recovery and should resolve within a few days. These include:

Infection occurs in less than 1% of those who undergo a no-incision vasectomy and less than 2% of those who undergo a scalpel vasectomy. Chronic scrotal pain is another rare side effect that occurs in about 1% to 2% of cases.

Vasectomies are a low-risk, fast, and relatively painless procedure. They're also one of the most effective forms of birth control available.

Not to mention, vasectomies are permanent, so once you've passed the semen analysis test, you don't have to worry about birth control ever again.

That said, you can reverse a vasectomy. However, these procedures can be expensive and don't ensure a successful pregnancy. Therefore, weigh your choice carefully when considering a vasectomy.

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Vasectomy procedure: What it is and what to expect - Insider

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