Are you considering a vasectomy? A relatively minor outpatient surgical procedure that results in a birth control method with an over 99% effectiveness rate, a vasectomy can be a great alternative to other more cumbersome, less effective forms of birth control. However, before you make your decision, you probably have some questions about what to expect. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked vasectomy questions:

1. How does the vasectomy work to prevent pregnancy?

A vasectomy blocks the vasa deferentia, preventing sperm transportation from the testicles to the urethra.

2. What kind of sedation will I need?

A vasectomy is usually performed in a urologist’s office under a local anesthetic. Your urologist can let you know if you need any additional sedation or a hospital environment for your procedure based on your health history.

3. What is the recovery like after a vasectomy?

During the recovery period you will need to avoid both strenuous and sexual activity. Your urologist will give you some recommendations, such as placing an ice pack on the scrotum to minimize the swelling and discomfort, and wearing a supportive undergarment, such as a jockstrap.

4. How long will my vasectomy recovery take?

Most vasectomy patients are able to return to work a day after the procedure, and can resume normal sexual activity within one week of having a vasectomy.

5. Will a vasectomy immediately be a reliable form of birth control?

It is important that patients understand that a vasectomy is NOT immediately effective. You will need to submit at least one semen analysis to demonstrate that there are no sperm in the ejaculate after your procedure. Most urologists recommend that you wait at least three months (or 20 ejaculates – whichever comes first) before your semen analysis. Until that time you should use an alternative form of contraception.

6. What are the risks associated with a vasectomy?

Though the vasectomy is considered a low risk procedure, there are risks associated with any surgery. With a vasectomy, there is a risk of bleeding into the scrotum immediately after the surgery. If a patient experiences fever, scrotal redness or tenderness, he should contact his urologist as this may be a sign of infection. A benign lump, or granuloma, may also develop if there is a leakage of sperm from the cut end of the vas deferens into the scrotal tissues, which can cause pain or sensitivity in the area.

7. Will sexual activity change for me or my partner after a vasectomy?

No, ejaculation and orgasms are generally not affected by a vasectomy. Occasionally, your partner may be able to feel the vasectomy site, especially if you develop a granuloma.

8. Can I become impotent after a vasectomy?

No, an uncomplicated vasectomy will not cause impotence.

9. Can a vasectomy fail?

Though the success rate is very high, there is a small chance that the vasectomy could fail if the sperm leaks from one end of the cut vas deferens to find a channel to the other end.

10. Can my vasectomy be reversed if I change my mind?

There is a vasectomy reversal procedure, but it can be costly and may not be covered by insurance. In addition, the vasectomy reversal is not effective 100% of the time. With these facts in mind, you should consider the vasectomy a permanent procedure before making your decision.

Though these are the basics, you may have some additional questions that you need answered before deciding to have a vasectomy. Your best resource for more detailed information? Your urologist. Give Urology Specialists of the Carolinas a call to set up an appointment. We can discuss your specific questions so that you can decide if having a vasectomy is right for you.