For the Men – Vasectomy 101
Getting a vasectomy is a big decision – although our experts say making the decision is far more difficult than the procedure itself. Here, we talk with urologist Dr. Ian Udell to explore the top questions most men (and their significant others!) may have about this permanent form of contraception.
Q: How do you know if you’re ready for a vasectomy?
A: Having a vasectomy is a very personal decision. If you (and your family, if applicable) are certain you have no interest in having children in the future and want the security and freedom that comes with permanent contraception, a vasectomy is a great option to consider.
Q: How effective is a vasectomy?
A: My patients are often surprised to hear that a vasectomy is one of the most effective methods of birth control and is as effective (if not more effective) than other forms of contraception, including tubal ligation (historically known as a woman having her tubes tied). A vasectomy is nearly 100% effective after sterility has been confirmed – which typically occurs three months after the procedure. For comparison, here’s the lineup.
Contraception Failure Rates
- Implant: 0.05%
- Intrauterine Device (IUD): 0.2 – 0.8%
- *Vasectomy: 0.15%
- *Tubal Ligation: 0.50%
- Injectable: 6%
- Pill/Patch/Ring: 9%
- Diaphragm: 12%
- Withdrawal: 22%
- Periodic Abstinence (Rhythm Method): 24%
*permanent contraception methods
Q: What can I expect from a vasectomy?
A: The procedure is typically performed in the doctor’s office or in an outpatient surgery center and takes about 15-20 minutes total. Because of medications, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterward. As for the procedure itself, you’ll likely be given a mild sedative (to relax) and then we’ll numb the area. A small puncture is made in the scrotum which allows us to cut the sperm ducts (vas deferens), which will then be blocked with small clips.
Dissolving stitches are sometimes, but not always needed. Most men will take two days off of work, or have the procedure done on a Friday so they have the weekend to recover. Some men choose to have it done during a popular sporting event such as The Master’s or March Madness. The most common complications include minor bleeding, some discomfort and mild swelling. These are not unusual and should stop in 72 hours.
Q: What if I change my mind and decide I want to have more kids following the procedure?
A: Sometimes men may elect to have a reversal following a remarriage, loss of a child or just a change of heart. Even though a reversal can be performed, I always tell patients to consider a vasectomy permanent contraception.
You should never go into a vasectomy thinking you can just have a reversal done at a later date since all surgery comes with risks, and it’s only effective 50-70% of the time if performed within 10 years.
Patients who elect to have a vasectomy should come to terms with the fact that they may never have another child, regardless of what life may bring them. This is often a difficult, but important discussion to have prior to having a vasectomy.
About Ian Udell, MD
Dr. Ian Udell is a urologist with WakeMed Physician Practices – Urology. Dr. Udell’s clinical interests include minimally invasive surgery of the kidney, ureter, bladder, and prostate. This includes using the Da Vinci© Robotic Surgical System to perform prostate, kidney, bladder, and reconstructive genitourinary surgery for both cancerous and benign diagnoses.