Vasectomy, a form of birth control for men that is becoming more popular, is the most common non-diagnostic operation that urologists in the U.S perform. Approximately half a million men undergo vasectomies every year.
It is a permanent form of birth control that involves a minor surgical procedure to seal the vas deferens so that sperm does not reach the semen. A vasectomy is over 99% effective and has a number of great benefits for both men and women.
Why vasectomy is a better choice for men
A vasectomy is a reliable form of birth control that helps prevent unplanned pregnancy. Read on to learn about the benefits it provides, specifically for men.
A vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of birth control. According to the Urological Association guidelines, the risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have a sperm count of zero in a post-vasectomy semen analysis. This is equivalent to the contraceptive effectiveness of tubal ligation.
Further, the U.S. Office of Population Affairs reported that less than 1 in 100 women became pregnant after their partner has undergone a vasectomy.
To perform a vasectomy, a doctor makes one or two small punctures in order to access the vas deferens tubes, which are then cut and sealed. The procedure usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes and can be performed in a doctor’s office rather than in an operating room.
Unlike tubal ligation, a vasectomy does not require going under general anesthesia. The procedure, instead, is most commonly done with a simple local anesthetic. Valium or a similar drug may be offered as a relaxant.
While a vasectomy is a reliable form of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancy, it can be reversed should a couple desire to have children after the procedure. Approximately, 30,000 men out of the 500,000 vasectomy patients each year choose to reverse their vasectomy. Vasectomy reversals tend to be successful, ranging from a 30-90% success rate depending on the type of procedure and other factors.
Lower health risks
Vasectomy patients have lower health risks than women who undergo tubal ligations. One reason is that a vasectomy avoids risks associated with general anesthesia.
A vasectomy is also a less invasive procedure, lowering the risk of bleeding and infection. Lastly, vital organs are not exposed in a vasectomy, unlike in a tubal ligation.
A vasectomy is one of the most cost-effective forms of contraception. The average cost of a vasectomy is thousands of dollars cheaper than the sterilization methods for women. Tubal ligation can cost up to $6,000.
A vasectomy is a permanent choice of birth control, which means it is just a one-time expense. While other contraceptives like condoms or pills may have a cheaper initial cost, the total cost accrues with each purchase.
Years of using oral contraceptives and condoms become more expensive over time. For couples who no longer want to have children, a vasectomy is the most cost-effective option.
Often covered by insurance
Not only are vasectomies a one-time cost, but this cost is often covered by medical insurance. This means that the procedure costs significantly less once you have met your deductible.
Does not affect sexual pleasure
Although many studies on the correlation between sexual pleasure and vasectomies are poorly defined, men reported that they did not experience negative effects on sexual function. This is also described as a non-factor in the American Urological Association guidelines. 98-99% of men were satisfied with the results of their vasectomies. Evidence also shows that a man’s orgasm does not change after a vasectomy.
Men may experience minor symptoms after a vasectomy including bruising, swelling, and pain after the procedure. However, those symptoms typically only last for a few days.
According to the American Urological Association, only 1-2% of men experience chronic scrotal pain. After getting a vasectomy, a patient needs to rest for 24 hours and abstain from sexual activity for a week. This recovery time is much shorter than tubal ligation, which may take from one to two weeks.
No-scalpel vasectomies available
To speed up recovery time, a no-scalpel vasectomy procedure has been developed. First introduced to the United States in 1984, it relies on specialized surgical instruments, not scalpels, to expose the vas deferens.
This option is less invasive and has fewer risks associated with it including less bleeding, infection, and pain.
Why vasectomy is a better choice for women
While vasectomies are performed on males, they provide a number of benefits to female partners as well. Although tubal ligation is still a more popular form of permanent birth control, read about some of the benefits a vasectomy offers specifically to women.
Stop hormonal birth control
While each woman reacts differently to oral contraceptives, the pill typically results in exaggerated mood changes. If her partner undergoes a vasectomy, a woman can avoid taking hormonal pills and can effectively regulate her mood better. A vasectomy also removes the constant worry of trying to remember a daily pill.
Avoid tubal ligation
As mentioned, tubal ligation is a much more invasive procedure than a vasectomy. There are greater risks, a longer recovery time, and a higher cost associated with tubal ligation.
A vasectomy prevents a woman from having to undergo this invasive procedure, going to the operating room, and being put under general anesthesia. Because of these risks, a vasectomy is actually safer than tubal ligation.
Prevent risks of female sterilization
Female sterilization is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy in which the baby develops outside the womb. Vasectomy avoids exposing women to the increased risk of this serious pregnancy complication.
The bottom line
A vasectomy has many benefits for both male and females. The decision to undergo this procedure is a very personal one and should be discussed between the couple. Consult a doctor if you are considering this procedure or if you have any further questions.
First published on 2/5/17, this article has been reviewed and updated for republication.