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Karen Boyle, MD

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What Women Want to Know about Vasectomies

Answers to your most intimate questions.

The vasectomy procedure should be considered carefully by each man and every couple, as vasectomies should be considered permanent. As a woman, you may have special concerns that need to be addressed. Donít hesitate to ask your physician for more information.

Vasectomy sterilization raises questions for every couple, both men and women, such as "do vasectomies affect male sexual performance?" or "how does the Essure procedure compare to vasectomy?". Although men can be forthcoming about the questions, concerns and fears they share with their physician, it is just as important for women to be informed and reassured about the procedure. You may be surprised to know that many women share the apprehensions about vasectomies that men have.

Candid questions, correct information, and the assurance of an experienced physician are the keys to feeling more comfortable and sure about the decision you and your spouse to limit the size of your family. Make a list of the questions that concern you most about vasectomies before meeting with your doctor.

Here are some, but not all, of the questions commonly asked by women:

Will a vasectomy affect a man's sexual performance or ejaculation?
How long will it be until my spouse and I can resume sex?
Does the vasectomy procedure leave scars?
After the vasectomy, how soon will it be until my husband is no longer producing sperm?
How long will my husband be in pain after surgery, and how can I help?
Does a vasectomy make you more, or less, susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases?
How young is "too young" for a couple considering vasectomy surgery?
My husband doesn't want surgery-he says that a tubal ligation is just as safe, easy and effective. Is it?
What is the Essure procedure and how does it compare to vasectomy?

"Will a vasectomy affect a man"s sexual performance or ejaculation?"

Men with vasectomies typically feel no vasectomy related side effects or change in sexual drive after the vasectomy recovery. Sperm is only a tiny portion of the seminal fluid that is released at ejaculation. A vasectomy does not change the volume, color, or consistency of the ejaculate. Sperm are impossible to detect without the use of a microscope. The quality, intensity and duration of a man"s orgasm and ejaculate should not change after a vasectomy.

"How long will it be until my spouse and I can resume sex?"

Physicians usually advise that it"s best to wait a week or two following the procedure before returning to sexual activity. It will take additional time before sperm is no longer ejaculated, so an alternate form of birth control will need to be used initially.

"Does the vasectomy procedure leave scars?"

Vasectomies leave virtually no scar or noticeable difference to the feel or appearance of the scrotum. Vasectomy is a safe, simple procedure.

"After the vasectomy, how soon will it be until my husband is no longer producing sperm?"

Even after the vasectomy procedure, men continue to produce sperm, which are absorbed by the body. Your husband will have one or more sperm tests following surgery, and it will take 6 weeks or longer before he no longer ejaculates sperm and the vasectomy is considered successful.

"How long will my husband be in pain after surgery, and how can I help?"

You can expect your husband to experience some degree of discomfort and swelling on the day of, and after, surgery. A gradually decreasing ache in the scrotal region may follow and last for a week or so. The best medicine for him during his vasectomy recovery time is to follow doctors" orders, lots of ice and rest, and your tender loving care.

"Does a vasectomy make you more, or less, susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases?"

Vasectomy surgery does not protect couples from the risk of transmitting or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. These diseases are transferred in body fluids, such as saliva or semen. Both men and women should use condoms if any potential risk of sexually transmitted disease exists.

"How young is "too young" for a couple considering vasectomy surgery?"

An individual may choose not to ever father a child at any stage of life, and age is a subjective consideration. However, a good rule of thumb is that couples over the age of 25, who have all the children they desire, are old enough to make this personal, permanent decision.

"My husband doesn"t want surgery-he says that a tubal ligation is just as safe, easy and effective. Is it?"

Vasectomies are performed in just a few minutes with a local anesthetic. The procedure is faster, easier, less expensive and poses much less risk of complications to men than does a tubal ligation for women, which must be performed under general anesthesia, and requires a longer recovery period and is more expensive.

Someone told me that the Essure procedure is an alternative to tubal ligation. What is that procedure and how does it compare to vasectomy?"

The Essure procedure involves placing metal coils into the fallopian tubes with a scope through the uterus. Occlusion of the fallopian tubes then usually occurs through scarring over the ensuing months. It is complicated (requiring special expertise with internal instruments) and much more expensive than the simple 15 minute vasectomy. While vasectomies are virtually painless, the Essure procedure is done frequently with anesthesia, or at least with intravenous sedation. While confirmation of sterilization with vasectomy involves only a semen sample, that confirmation after an Essure procedure requires at least one uterine dye x-ray procedure. The Essure procedure offers no better sterilization and its long term data is much more limited than with vasectomy. A vasectomy would be much easier to reverse than the Essure procedure.

In Summary:

  • Vasectomies should be considered permanent birth control, so consider carefully your decision in light of your age financial and marital situation.
  • Be informed and discuss all your options with your spouse and your physician.
  • There is virtually no vasectomy scar post the procedure and sexual performance is not affected.
  • Tubal ligation is a more complicated sterilization procedure compared to vasectomy, which is safer, easier and just as effective.
  • Vasectomy is generally not recommended for couples under the age of 25.

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