What to Know When Considering a Vasectomy
So you’re thinking about a vasectomy. You know what the procedure will do. You even know what it will cost. The appointment fits into your schedule, and you’ve already talked with your doctor. So what’s left to consider? A lot, actually.
A vasectomy is a quick, fairly nonintrusive procedure, but a man should evaluate several key factors before undergoing one.
Consider the following topics before making this important decision:
How a vasectomy works
A vasectomy involves cutting or blocking two tubes known as the vas deferens. These tubes carry sperm from the testicles and through the ejaculatory duct in the penis. By removing the pathway for sperm to get to the testicles, the procedure renders a man infertile, as the sperm can no longer leave the body. However, a man who has had a successful vasectomy can still have erections and orgasms and can still ejaculate; his semen simply won’t contain any sperm.
Having a vasectomy virtually eliminates the risk of pregnancy during sexual encounters. Other forms of contraception are less invasive and less permanent, but some people may find condoms inconvenient and not pleasurable, and some people experience adverse side effects from oral or intrauterine birth control. If you don’t like using or can’t use these forms of contraception and don’t want to have children, a vasectomy can be a good alternative.
Reversals are not always successful
Some patients may decide after a vasectomy that they do want children and then decide to have the procedure reversed. Pregnancy rates decline for couples involving men who have vasectomy reversals after the initial 15-year window following the procedure.
Keep in mind, though, that the success rate for reversals varies widely: between 30 and 90 percent. If the process is successful, sperm will be able to travel through the vas deferens again, and the patient may be able to impregnate his partner again. That being said, vasectomies and reversals are painful and, like the initial procedure, can require up to four weeks of recovery time.
Not sure? Wait
The most important factor to consider is whether you’re certain a vasectomy is the right choice for you. It is a surefire way to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but if you change your mind, reversals are not always guaranteed to work and they’re expensive. Additionally, unlike vasectomies, reversals are not always covered by insurance.
Consider your thoughts about children, your lifestyle, possible complications from the procedure and your own convictions about having a vasectomy. Take your partner’s opinions and goals into consideration, as well, if applicable. And if you’re not sure, use preventive measures, such as condoms and other forms of birth control, to avoid unwanted pregnancies while you’re making your mind up.
Give yourself time to evaluate your needs, and only then decide if a vasectomy is the right choice for you.