We’ve talked plenty about condoms, so let’s discuss the other half of the whole two methods of birth control we have as men, vasectomy! Vasectomy is the male version of sterilization, like a woman getting her “tubes tied”. It is THE MOST EFFECTIVE method of birth control for men. This is considered a permanent procedure, but has a small chance of being reversed in the future by a qualified physician if you later decide you want to have children, but you shouldn’t count on it.
Who should get a vasectomy?
Vasectomy is generally only recommended for men who either never want children, or are done having children and don’t want any more. This is a big decision and ties in with the “should I have kids” article. You should really think it through and do your research before getting a vasectomy, you need to be absolutely positive you don’t want to have any children from that day forward. It is a good idea to sit down and literally write out what your life would look like without children of your own, and how you would feel about being permanently infertile.
With all that said, there are many men who got the snip and never looked back. They decided they didn’t want to have children (some at a very young age), and took that option off the table for themselves. A colleague of mine is one of these men. He was adopted, had no idea what diseases were in his genetics, knew that he didn’t want to father his own child, and got a vasectomy at age 23. He’s now 56, married, and never once regretted his decision. He told me that if he ever decided he wanted children, he would adopt and give a parentless child a chance, as his adoptive parents did for him. He will be writing his own guest article about his experience in the near future.
On the flipside, there are a host of men who regret their decision to get a vasectomy. Typically these men are married, and it wasn’t entirely their decision to have the procedure done. You need to decide for YOURSELF whether it is the right choice for you or not. Not your wife, not your girlfriend, not your friends, YOU. The other set of men that typically regret getting the snip are those who have had surgical complications. This includes those that have suffered from infection, chronic pain, spontaneous reversal (where the vas deferens grow back and those men end up getting someone pregnant on accident), loss of libido, poor erection quality, or the men that later decide they want to have kids and now cannot.
As I said, you need to do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and make the decision for yourself.
What exactly is a vasectomy?
There are essentially two types of vasectomy; incisional and non-incisional. Both are equally effective in preventing pregnancy, nearly 100% (99.9%). The first is done by making two small incisions in the scrotum in order to access the Vas Deferens, the small tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. These tubes are then cut and either cauterized (burned shut), tied off, or blocked with surgical clips. The small incisions are then sutured shut. The “no-cut” method involves a single puncture into the scrotum and one of the above methods of blocking the vas deferens. This method has a lower chance of infection, pain, or bruising, and is quicker to heal. A vasectomy is fairly simple and typically takes about 20 minutes or so at a doctor’s office.
What are the side effects?
The typical side effects from vasectomy are; pain, swelling, bruising, bleeding, and infection. These are the usual side effects of any surgical procedure. The less common side effects include loss of libido, chronic pain, and spontaneous reversal. Most of the time loss of libido is a mental issue. Many men see themselves differently when they are infertile, somehow less of a man. These are usually the guys who never wanted to get the procedure done in the first place, as most of the men who elected it for themselves don’t have this issue. Chronic pain effects a very small percentage of men after a vasectomy, and an even smaller percentage have the vas deferens actually grow back, rendering them fertile again. Check out some of the links at the bottom of the page to read up on these yourself.
Is it reversible?
Like I said before, vasectomy is considered permanent. There are reversal procedures though, most of which have a success rate of about 40-90%. Check out this ARTICLE from Mayo Clinic.
Another thing to consider is the fact that most health insurance won’t cover the reversal procedure, which can be pretty expensive. If you watched the videos in that link you can see that the reversal procedure is quite a bit more complicated, and you’ll need to find a specialized physician to perform it. Since these reversals are not always successful, you may want to think about freezing some sperm if you decide to get a vasectomy and think you may want children in the future.
So, what should you do if you’re planning on having children but still want to get a vasectomy? Consider freezing some sperm before you have the procedure done. By freezing sperm, I mean go to a sperm bank, fill out paperwork, and pay them to store your properly frozen semen sample. Do NOT freeze sperm yourself as this will not work. Freezing a semen sample ensures that you will have viable sperm in case the procedure cannot be reversed or you are found to be infertile after a reversal. It’s always good to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Freezing sperm can be done at your local sperm bank, or through various companies online (sppare.me is one of the many). Cost ranges from $500-$2,000 for the initial set-up, then a $100-$300 per year storage fee.
I’ve thought about getting a vasectomy many times. I think it’s a great option for many men, but I have decided not to do it myself for multiple reasons. First, I might want to have children someday. I’ll wait as long as possible to do this because I’m still thoroughly enjoying not being a father, but there’s a possibility that I’ll want to have kids when I’m older. If I come to the conclusion that I never want children of my own, and there are no other long-term male birth control options by then, I’ll go for it. Which brings us to the possibility of future male birth control methods. Hopefully in the near future there will be just as many options for men as there are for women, and we can truly take control and responsibility of our own fertility. In the meantime, I’ve been practicing the method in my BOOK.