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When it comes to family planning and contraception, conversations typically center around the various options of birth control that are available for women. However, once the decision has been made to no longer have children, the option of a vasectomy becomes a very logical – and very effective – contraception choice for men.

Many people believe the decision to have a vasectomy lies solely in the hands of the man considering the procedure. While making the choice to have a vasectomy is a big decision for a man, it’s an equally important decision for the man’s spouse or partner, and for the couple as a whole. 

Considering this, and as a woman, you have a very important role in the decision-making process for your partner’s contraceptive choices, including a vasectomy. Understanding what a vasectomy entails, its implications, and offering support can be crucial for both men and women who are looking to navigate this decision as a couple.

In this post, we’ll explore vasectomies, offer insight into what they are, how they work, what to expect while also sharing helpful advice on the role women can play in supporting their partners through this process.

What is a Vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedure performed on men and is intended to be a permanent form of contraception. During a vasectomy, the vas deferens, which are the tiny tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, are cut or blocked. This procedure prevents sperm from being released during ejaculation, effectively making a man sterile.

It’s important to note that while a vasectomy is considered permanent, it may be possible to reverse the procedure through a slightly more complex surgical procedure.

How Does a Vasectomy Work?

As mentioned above, a vasectomy is a very safe and effective birth control option for families who are certain that they don’t want to have children in the future. With nearly a 100% effectiveness rate in preventing pregnancy, vasectomies effectively block the ability for sperm to leave the body.  

Specifically, during this simple, outpatient surgical procedure, a small area of the scrotum is numbed with a tiny injection of local anesthesia (like a dental filling). Once the area is completely numb, a small incision or puncture is made in the upper part of the scrotum. The vas deferens, or the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, is located and a portion pulled through the incision or puncture. The vas deferens is then cut and sealed by cauterizing. The vas deferens is then returned to the scrotum and the incision is closed by using stitches.

It then takes roughly 20+ ejaculations to ensure sperm has been completely cleared from the semen. Once lab testing confirms the absence of sperm in the semen, it can safely assume that your vasectomy is complete and will serve as an effective method of birth control. 

Benefits of Vasectomies for Couples

Vasectomies offer several benefits for couples seeking a safe and reliable form of contraception. Primarily, a vasectomy offers a permanent solution to birth control, eliminating the need for other methods that require advanced planning, recurring costs, or have a higher failure rate. These benefits allow couples to enjoy intimacy without the constant worry, or risk, of unintended pregnancy. 

Additionally, vasectomies are a highly effective procedure with minimal risks and complications, making them a safe and comforting option for many couples. 

Opting for a vasectomy provides couples the opportunity to share the responsibility of family planning more equitably, relieving some of the burden traditionally placed on women. This shared responsibility often leads to greater peace of mind and a stronger sense of partnership within the relationship. 

Potential Side Effects Associated with Vasectomies 

Using only the most minimally invasive and advanced techniques, vasectomies completed by our urologic specialists are very safe and very effective with most men only experiencing mild and expected side effects. Side effects most commonly associated with a vasectomy include mild pain and discomfort, swelling, and bruising of the scrotum. It is extremely rare for men to need anything more than over the counter pain medications. 

While most of these issues will resolve themselves over the course of a few days, excessive bleeding, discharge, pain, swelling, redness or fever could be signs of an infection or complication and should be reported to your doctor right away. 

What to Expect Before, During, & After Surgery

Beginning about a week before a scheduled vasectomy, it’s important for the patient to avoid taking aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications thin the blood and can increase the risk of bleeding.

The day of the surgery, have a light meal. We also recommend they wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, like sweatpants or jogging pants to the appointment.  

A typical vasectomy takes roughly less than 20 minutes.  After numbing a small area of the scrotum, the doctor will quickly perform the procedure, answer any questions you or the patient may have, provide post-operative instructions, and schedule a follow up appointment.

Although the patient should be able to drive himself home after the procedure, there’s a chance he could experience slight light headedness. To ensure that the patient is able to safely travel home after the vasectomy, we recommend having a spouse, friend, or family member to be available to provide a ride home if needed.

After the vasectomy, typically recovery  involves a few days of rest and limited activity. Immediately following the procedure, it’s common for individuals to experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising in the scrotal area. Wearing an athletic supporter, taking pain medication, and applying cold packs are effective in helping to  alleviate these symptoms during the first few days. Most men are able to resume very light activities within 2-3 days, although strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least a week in order to prevent strain on the surgical site. 

Most men begin to progressively feel better in the days following the procedure, however it’s important to refrain from sexual activity for at least 10 days or until cleared to do so by the doctor. Until the area completely heals, ejaculation within the week following a vasectomy has been known to strain the site of the incision and cause pain and discomfort in the testicles; most men are able to resume normal sexual function ten to twelve days after their procedure.  However, it’s very important to pay careful attention to the requirements of birth control/contraception in the weeks and months following the vasectomy or until lab testing confirms the absence of sperm in the semen.

Full recovery and a return to normal activities typically occur within 1-2 weeks after the vasectomy. 

Alternatives to Vasectomies

Contraception alternatives to vasectomies for men remain limited and primarily only include the use of a condom or relying on the withdrawal method, both of these methods are less reliable than a vasectomy procedure.

Condoms, when used perfectly every time, are estimated to be 90% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy. However, with typical condom use, it is about 82% effective at preventing pregnancy. Roughly 18 out of every 100 people who rely only on condoms become pregnant each year.1 

The withdrawal method of contraception is effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy only 78% of the time.  

Common Misconceptions About Vasectomies

A vasectomy procedure is a highly effective and convenient form of birth control. However, because it’s a surgical procedure performed on a man’s most sensitive area, many men are understandably uneasy or concerned about having vasectomies.  

We’ve noticed that much of this apprehension is based on misconceptions and myths that are easy to debunk. These common misconceptions and myths include: 

Misconception #1: Vasectomies are extremely painful.  

While it’s normal to feel some minor discomfort, often described as tugging or pulling, during a vasectomy, the scrotal area is completely numb and moderate to severe pain is very rare. Like most minor surgical procedures, it’s common to have some minor localized soreness for a few days after the procedure. Most men find this mild discomfort can be effectively managed with a combination of OTC pain medication, by wearing an athletic supporter, and the use of ice packs.

Misconception #2: Vasectomies make men sterile right away.

This is a HUGE misconception with the potential to have a life-altering outcome. While a vasectomy will make a man sterile, a vasectomy will not make a man sterile immediately. In other words, a vasectomy is not immediately effective in preventing pregnancy.

Because of this, you will need the protection of alternative contraception until your doctor verifies through lab testing that sperm is no longer present in the semen. 

For most men, completely clearing sperm from semen requires at least 20 ejaculations after vasectomy.  

Once lab testing confirms the absence of sperm in your semen, it can then safely be assumed that the vasectomy is complete and will serve as an effective method of birth control. 

Misconception #3: A vasectomy lowers a man’s testosterone levels.

There is a common misconception that testosterone levels decrease after a vasectomy – this is not the case, at all.

Multiple studies have evaluated the effect of vasectomy on the production of testosterone (and other male hormones) and have consistently found that there is no change in testosterone levels following a vasectomy.

A vasectomy prevents sperm from being released during ejaculation, a vasectomy procedure does not change a man’s testosterone levels.

Misconception #4: A vasectomy has a negative affect sexual function

A vasectomy will not affect sexual function. In fact, most men and women actually report improved sexual experiences knowing that the risk of pregnancy is removed.

With the exception of sperm no longer being added to semen during an ejaculation, there should not be any other noticeable change to a man’s libido, ability to achieve and maintain an erection, orgasim, or anything else that you would notice during sexual intercoure.

Misconception #5: Vasectomies are only for older men: 

Many people mistakenly believe that vasectomies are only for older men.  The choice to have a  vasectomy does not depend on a man’s age. Regardless of age, men who no longer wish to have children can opt for a vasectomy.

The easy, efficient, and convenient process used by Purley Vasectomies’ urologic specialists incorporates the most minimally invasive techniques to ensure you are comfortable before, during, and after your vasectomy.

How Women Can Support Their Partners

The decision to have a vasectomy is a big decision for couples. In many cases, while they might not openly admit it, the time leading up to the procedure can be very stressful for men.

Supporting your partner through a vasectomy can be very helpful; here’s how to support your partner through a vasectomy:

  • Encourage open communication about both of your feelings, concerns, and expectations surrounding family planning, reproductive decisions, and the option of a vasectomy. It’s always helpful to make sure your partner knows that you are committed to making these decisions together and that he can talk to you about any worries or questions he may have.
  • Educate yourself about the vasectomy procedure, its benefits, risks, and recovery process. Being informed can help you provide better support and be more understanding.
  • Be patient and understand that full recovery from a vasectomy may take a week, and in rare cases, even longer; your partner may require additional patience and understanding as he fully heals physically and emotionally.
  • Seek support together. If either partner is feeling overwhelmed or uncertain at any point during this process, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor together.
  • Celebrate the decision to undergo a vasectomy as a positive step towards family planning and taking control of reproductive health.

Emotional Considerations for Both

Remember that every individual and relationship is unique and the most important thing is to offer support in a way that feels comfortable and appropriate for both partners.

For men, the decision to undergo vasectomy may evoke feelings of anxiety or uncertainty about the loss of fertility or concerns about the vasectomy procedure itself. 

It’s also not uncommon for women to experience a range of emotions, including feeling a sense of relief from the responsibility of contraception and stress and anxiety about their partner’s well-being.

Open communication, understanding the facts about a vasectomy, and mutual support between partners are all essential steps for successfully navigating the emotional considerations and concerns that could arise before, during, and after a vasectomy.



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