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Vasectomy - Education

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How vasectomy works

Sperm are formed in a man's testes, and they mature in an area attached to the testes called the epididymis. It takes nearly 90 days from the time of sperm production for them to travel gradually up two tubes called the vas deferentia and then become available for ejaculation. Before ejaculation, fluids from the seminal vesicles and the prostate are combined with sperm to form semen. Vasectomy interrupts this process by closing off the vas deferentia, preventing the sperm from joining the other fluids. Because the sperm's contribution to volume is less than 5 percent, there is no noticeable change in the man's semen.

A man's virility is not affected by vasectomy, because it doesn't change the testes' production of the male hormone, testosterone. His sex drive, potency, male characteristics, and sexual pleasure should be unchanged. In fact, roughly 30 percent of men report improved sexuality after a vasectomy, most likely because the worry of pregnancy is eliminated. After a vasectomy, sperm continue to be produced but at a decreased rate. Those that are produced die and are absorbed by the body.

How a vasectomy is done

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure completed in the doctor's office that removes a small section of each vas deferens and seals off the ends. Prior to the late 1980s, most vasectomies were done using a small scalpel, took about 30 minutes, and required a couple of days for full recovery. Around 1988, though, a Chinese technique was introduced to the United States. The no-scalpel vasectomy simplifies the procedure, reducing the total time to between 8 and 10 minutes. As no incision is made, no stitches are required. Discomfort during and after the procedure is reduced, complications such as bleeding are minimal, and recovery is quicker.
No scalpel vasectomy is done with a special tool that creates the least amount of disturbance. For most men, the prick of the needle for the local anesthetic is about the extent of the pain. In many cases men do not even need over-the counter-medication afterward, let alone prescription medication.

Though it is not always necessary, it is advised to have someone come along to drive you home. Resting and applying an ice pack to your scrotum for a couple of days following the procedure will significantly speed your recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

Complications from vasectomy

Complications are typically minor and only occur in about 10 percent of vasectomy procedures. Additionally, there has never been a death with a vasectomy. As is the case with any surgical procedure, there's always a minor risk for bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to the anesthetic, causing a rash. Complications specific to vasectomy include the possibility of a sperm granuloma, testicular pain, and epididymitis. Also, in very rare instances, a man can lose a testicle.

A sperm granuloma occurs if sperm leak from the vasectomy site or a rupture in the epididymis and provoke an inflammatory reaction. About a half-inch in diameter, they require further attention in only about two percent of men. About one percent of men experience aching testicles from congestion in the epididymis. This usually disappears within six months. Epididymitis is an inflammation at the vasectomy site, usually taking place within the first year. Heat and anti-inflammatory medicine usually clear it up in about a week.

Without a doubt, the most common complication we see is swelling of the scrotum and this is seen when men refuse to take it easy for a couple of days after a vasectomy. Regrettably, once the swelling starts, it may take two weeks for it to reduce completely, so prevention is the best method.

Ask the Doctor with Urologist Dr Dan French Vasectomy reversal options