How Does A Vasectomy Work And Can It Be Reversed?

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How Does A Vasectomy Work And Can It Be Reversed?
Men who don’t want any more kids will often choose to have a vasectomy. From shutterstock.com

Some men may shudder at the thought of “the snip”. But vasectomies are a safe and effective form of contraception for men who have completed their family, or don’t wish to have children.

Medicare data shows more than 25,000 Australian men have had a vasectomy in the last financial year. The relatively simple surgical procedure involves disrupting the sperm-carrying tubes in the scrotum to prevent sperm from getting into the seminal fluid when a man ejaculates.

Typically, sperm only make up around 2-5% of total ejaculate volume. That means following a successful vasectomy, at least 95% of the end product will still remain, while eliminating the risk of pregnancy.

The procedure

Generally, vasectomies are carried out under local anaesthetic. The surgery can usually be completed within 15-30 minutes.

In the “no-scalpel” method, a single puncture is made through the scrotum using specialised equipment. The tubes can then be accessed without having to make an incision. This method is considered best practice as it is minimally invasive, does not require stitches and results in very little scarring.

There is also the more traditional incision method where a scalpel is used to make one or two small access points through which the doctor performs the procedure.

For anyone worried about the function of the penis after the procedure, the penis actually has very little to do with a vasectomy. An incision, or a puncture, is made into the scrotum, and the focus of the procedure is the small internal tubes which connect the testes to the penis, called the vas deferens. The vas deferens carry sperm from the testicles to the prostate where it’s mixed with semen for ejaculation.

is Vasectomy reversible2 2 22This process of a vasectomy involves severing the vas deferens. From shutterstock.com

In most procedures, around 1-2cms of the vas deferens will be removed to minimise the chance of the tubes rejoining later on.

Techniques to close the ends of the vas deferens include cauterisation (electrical or thermal burning to create scar tissue) and ligation (tying the tubes).

Some of the highest success rates involve an “open ended” technique (successful at least 99.5% of the time). This is where the upper portion of the tube is either cauterised or ligated while the end closer to the testes remains open. This has a lower risk of complications than other methods and appears to be a popular choice among Australian doctors.

How successful are vasectomies?

Generally vasectomies are very effective, with success rates well above 99% and with minimal long-term complications.

Potential complications immediately after surgery include infection and haematoma (internal bleeding), but the risks of such complications are small (1-2%). The risk is even less when the “no-scalpel” method is used.

The most common long-term complication of a vasectomy is pain in the scrotum, yet this only affects about 2% of men. It is believed the “open-ended” method minimises the chance of this happening.

Importantly, vasectomies are only fully effective after around three months as it takes time for sperm to clear completely from the vas deferens. So it’s sensible to continue to use an alternative form of contraception immediately following the procedure, until given the all-clear by a doctor.

Reversals

Someone who has had a vasectomy may wish to have the procedure reversed, for a variety of reasons.

Not every service that offers a vasectomy will offer a vasectomy reversal, called a vasovasostomy. But it can be done. The procedure essentially involves reconnecting the previously disconnected vas deferens.

Of vasectomised men, around 3-6% opt to have a vasectomy reversal, after which successful pregnancy may be achieved in up to 80% of cases.

There are many factors that could affect this chance. The age of the female partner is among the most significant.

It’s also important to note that the longer the duration since the vasectomy, the lower the odds of a successful reversal and future pregnancy.

In some cases, if a couple want more children following a vasectomy, a more realistic and time-efficient option may be IVF. Sperm can still be extracted directly from the testes of a man who has had a vasectomy.The Conversation

About The Author

James Dunn, Associate Lecturer in Anatomy and Cell Biology, Western Sydney University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

The Vasectomy Diaries: A Tale of Hard Decisions, Empty Emissions and Tiny Incisions (comedy, humor)

parentingAuthor: Rodney Lacroix
Binding: Kindle Edition
Format: Kindle eBook
Studio: Rodney Lacroix
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Editorial Review: "This is a GENIUS book. You guys have to pick this up." - Jenny McCarthy, from "The Jenny McCarthy Show" interview with Rodney Lacroix on June 15, 2017

From the best-selling humorist and comedy author of "Perhaps I've Said Too Much" and "Romantic as Hell."

Written in Rodney's trademark comedic style with spot-on timing, "The Vasectomy Diaries" is a hilarious, frank and hysterically wince-inducing account of one man's journey through the procedure.

Rodney takes you along with him on his quest to shoot blanks with a fast-paced, brain-storming diary format. Starting with the moment he makes the life-changing decision while experiencing a migraine during a kid's birthday party, all the way through to the final reveal on whether or not the damn thing took, it's a fun and racy ride.

Follow his progress in this day-by-day journal as he discusses and describes in full comedic (and graphic) detail such things as:

- The decision to empty the pistol chamber
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- How frozen peas can replace a dog as man's best friend
- Some Not-Safe-for-Work reading on post-vasectomy "chores"

Punctuated with some amazing illustrations, "The Vasectomy Diaries" is a feast for the eyes, as well. It's a great read for any man who is thinking of the procedure, any man that has had the procedure or just anyone who wants to laugh at another man's pain.

Think of it as "What to Expect when You're Expecting a Procedure to make Women You Sleep with Stop Expecting."

Sit down, relax and a get ready to laugh as Rodney Lacroix tells a tale in a way only he can. Trust me, it's not your average diary.

You'll laugh your balls off.




Vasectomy: What to expect so you're not expecting

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Editorial Review: Considering a vasectomy? Know someone who is? Sometimes a sense of humor is the best medicine. Written like a children's book - with funny pictures, rhyming stanzas and all - this book gives a tongue-in-cheek look at what to expect as you approach your vasectomy. Funny, straightforward, and honest - this book tells you what to expect so you won't be expecting anytime soon.




X-Plain Vasectomy

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Editorial Review: This concise illustrated ebook explains vasectomy. The program includes the following sections: what is a vasectomy, what is the anatomy of the male reproductive system, what is contraception, how is a vasectomy procedure performed, what are risks and complications of vasectomy, and what to do and what to expect after a vasectomy surgery.
Included is access to an interactive multimedia program about vasectomy. The X-Plain ®tutorial:
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•Explains the information with illustrations and animations
•Asks questions to verify understanding
•Gives feedback
•Recommends related topics
•Displays information at your own pace




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