Vasectomy: What you need to know

Key takeaways: 

Answers to the common questions about vasectomies  

Q: How safe and effective is a vasectomy?
A: A vasectomy is more effective than many other birth control methods and it is safer and cheaper than tubal ligation, which is the surgery where a woman gets her fallopian tubes tied.

Q: Will a vasectomy impact erections?
A: No, this procedure will not impact future erections. The vas deferens, the tube that transports sperm from the testicle out of the penis, has a different blood supply and different nerves than the penis.

Q: Will a vasectomy change how I pee?
A: No, it won’t impact how you urinate. The vas deferens has a different blood supply and different nerves than the bladder.  Blocking the vas deferens does not block the urethra - the tube you pee through.

Q: Will having a vasectomy change my sexual function?
A: After a vasectomy, a man will climax and ejaculate like he did before vasectomy.  In fact, most men will not notice a change in the volume of the ejaculate because most of the ejaculate comes from the prostate and seminal vesicles and nothing happens to those organs during a vasectomy.

Q: Are vasectomies permanent?
A: Vasectomies are considered a permanent form of sterilization and a man should not have this procedure done until he is certain he is ready to be permanently infertile. There is a surgery to undo a vasectomy and there are ways to get sperm out of a man to make a pregnancy at a fertility center.  But these treatments can be expensive, they are not typically covered by insurance, and they may not work.

Q: Does having a vasectomy prevent sexually transmitted disease?
A: No, a vasectomy won’t prevent sexually transmitted disease. Wearing a condom during sexual activity is how you prevent getting and spreading sexually transmitted diseases.

Q: Will my testicles still make sperm after a vasectomy?
A: Yes, they will. 

Q: So what happens to the sperm?
A: Your body already breaks down and clears out old sperm – your body will continue to do this after the vasectomy.  The part of the tubes nearest to the testicle (also called the epididymis) will also enlarge a little after vasectomy.

Q: Does a vasectomy work immediately, right away?
A: No. You must continue to use birth control after your vasectomy until you have submitted your post-vasectomy semen analysis and your provider tells you that you are infertile. It takes several months and many ejaculations to clear away the sperm.

Q: What does recovery from a vasectomy look like?
A: Simple steps like rest, ice, over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines, and avoiding strenuous activity are all you need to do to recover from your vasectomy. Most men are back to work in 2 to 3 days after the vasectomy and many men feel ready to resume vigorous activity like heavy lifting, exercise, and sex after 1 week.

Q: What are the chances that a vasectomy could fail?
A: The chance of a vasectomy failing is less than 0.001%. Studies have shown that only 1 out of very 2,000 couples will have a pregnancy together after a vasectomy. 

Q: Does having a vasectomy increase your chances of getting cancer?
A: Nope, it does not. 

Q: How common is discomfort after a vasectomy?
A: Lingering discomfort after a vasectomy is very rare. Most men have returned to full activity 2 weeks after vasectomy.  Only 1 to 2 out of every 100 men will have lingering discomfort after vasectomy.  In most cases this is treatment with anti-inflammatory medicines.

How can Frame help me when it comes to considerations around a vasectomy? 

We are here to help you dive into your family building goals, whether that means you want biological children in your future, are interested in alternatives such as adoption, or do not wish to have any children. Everyone is unique in how they approach their families and goals, and we will support you, whatever this may look like for you. When it comes to considering a vasectomy or other birth control options, our Frame assessment can help you to better understand your health, and our Frame coaches are your support as you prepare for conversations with your provider around birth control, including a vasectomy, your overall health, and your timeline. 

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