Clipped But Still Equipped: All you need to know about getting a Vasectomy

For so long, in a traditional family of a man and woman, the decision of how many kids to have is always at the forefront with everything from financing to task delegations (which has always been code for a woman taking care of her baby primarily) sort of culminating to arrive at a final number of tiny humans to bring to the world and the spacing between them to keep whatever family dynamic the couple dreamt of.

The human reproduction conversation is a beautiful one. A divine exercise that ensures that the human race never goes extinct. Perhaps the biggest facet of a family and society at large, childbirth is one of the biggest expectations of an individual’s life. However, it has not been a straightforward dialogue between both genders. The biological design puts the woman in charge as the vessel and an ideal world would have them calling all the shots on issues of issues.

Pregnancy, a journey considered by many to be extremely challenging, has been the oldest rite of passage for every woman since time immemorial; so much that when a woman doesn’t get so psyched about having a baby sometime in the future, society assumes she has a brain tumour as there’s no way she would even think about it.

Children are a heritage and an undoubted joy to have and watching them grow is about as fulfilling as anything else. However, as with anything else in life, the whole process of making them requires planning.

The planned parenthood industry since its inception has been centred around women as the subject matters and men as the decision-makers. When a couple reaches its set target of offspring to welcome into their family, conversations then begin on how to put a stop to the whole childbirth experience. These conversations feature a variety of options such as the condom, oral contraceptive pill, intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implant and injection, emergency contraception pill (the ‘morning after’ pill), contraceptive ring, diaphragm and sterilisation; all of these of course, excluding the man. So why is nobody talking about our options?

There have been few changes in male contraception compared with the range of options available to women. Although there’s ongoing research into a male contraceptive pill, there is not one available yet.

 

At the moment, the 2 contraceptive methods available to men are:

 

Condoms – a barrier form of contraception that stops sperm from reaching and fertilising an egg.

Vasectomy – a minor surgical procedure that stops sperm from reaching the semen ejaculated from the penis. Usually more effective than the condom.

The withdrawal method of taking your penis out of your partner’s vagina before ejaculating is not a method of contraception. This is because sperm can be released before ejaculation and cause pregnancy. Let’s dive deeper into vasectomy…

 

Vasectomy

— also called male sterilization — is a surgical procedure. It is meant to protect against pregnancy permanently, so it’s super effective. Sperm — the microscopic cells that join up with an egg to cause pregnancy — are made in your testicles. Sperm leaves the testicles through two tubes called the vas deferens, and mixes with other fluids to make semen. The sperm in your semen can cause pregnancy if it gets into a vagina.

A vasectomy blocks or cuts each vas deferens tube, keeping sperm out of your semen. Sperm cells stay in your testicles and are absorbed by your body. Starting about 3 months after a vasectomy, your semen won’t contain any sperm, so it can’t cause pregnancy. But you’ll still have the same amount of semen you did before. There just won’t be any sperm in it.

Vasectomies don’t change the way having an orgasm or ejaculating feels. Your semen will still look, feel, and taste the same after a vasectomy — it just won’t be able to get anybody pregnant.

 

Here’s What You Should Know About Vasectomies

What can I expect if I have a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is an easy surgical procedure. It’s really quick, and you can go home right after. You’ll need to rest for a couple of days after the vasectomy.

 

Does getting a vasectomy hurt?

Probably not. Your doctor will help make your vasectomy as comfortable as possible. You’ll get local anaesthesia to numb your testicles, so you shouldn’t feel much during the procedure. You may also get medicine to help you relax.

You may have a little discomfort when you get the numbing shot or when the vas deferens tubes are handled during the procedure. But overall, you shouldn’t feel too much pain.

There are two types of vasectomies: one that requires an incision (a cut in your skin), and one that’s incision-free (no-scalpel or no-cut).

 

What happens during an incision vasectomy?

The doctor makes one or two small cuts in the skin of your scrotum. Through these cuts, the tubes that carry sperm (vas deferens) are blocked off. Sometimes, a tiny part of each tube is removed. The tubes may be tied, blocked with surgical clips, or closed with an electrical current (this is called cauterizing). The whole thing takes about 20 minutes, and then the cut is stitched up.

 

What happens during a no-scalpel vasectomy?

The doctor makes one tiny puncture (hole) to reach both vas deferens tubes — the skin of your scrotum isn’t cut with a scalpel. Your tubes are then tied off, cauterized, or blocked. The small puncture heals quickly. You won’t need stitches, and there’s no scarring.

No-scalpel methods — also called no-cut or no-incision — reduce bleeding and lower the risk of infection, bruising, and other complications.

 

How will I feel after my vasectomy?

You can go home and rest right after your vasectomy. You may feel some discomfort or pain after your vasectomy, but you shouldn’t be in terrible pain. You may also have some bruising and/or swelling for a few days. Wearing snug underwear that doesn’t let your testicles move too much, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and icing your genitals can help ease any pain. And don’t do any hard physical work or exercise for a week after your vasectomy.

 

Call your doctor if you have:

  • A fever over 37°C.
  • Blood or pus coming from where the cut was made in your scrotum.
  • Lots of pain or swelling in your scrotum or testicle area.

These signs could mean you have an infection and need antibiotics.

 

How long will it take me to recover after my vasectomy?

Most people only need to rest for a few days after their vasectomy. If your job is physically demanding, you’ll have to take about a week off from work. You shouldn’t exercise or do any hard physical work for about a week after your vasectomy.

 

How soon can I have sex after my vasectomy?

Usually, you can start having sex again about a few days to a week after your vasectomy. Some people wait longer. If having sex is uncomfortable, wait a few more days. Just remember that the vasectomy WON’T prevent pregnancy right away.

It takes about 3 months after your vasectomy for your semen to be sperm-free. Your doctor will test your semen and tell you when the sperm are gone and the vasectomy is working as birth control.

To collect a semen sample, you’ll masturbate into a cup or use a special condom when you have sex. Until your doctor says there’s no sperm in your semen, you should use condoms or another form of birth control during vaginal sex.

 

What are the disadvantages of getting a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is designed to be permanent, so you can’t change your mind later. And like all medical procedures, vasectomies have some risks.

Vasectomies are meant to be permanent. Even if you get your vasectomy reversed, your fertility may never come back. Vasectomy reversal surgery is complicated and expensive and doesn’t always work. So you should only get a vasectomy if you’re totally certain you don’t want to get someone pregnant for the rest of your life.

 

Vasectomies can have some risks.

Overall, vasectomies are very safe, and most people don’t have any problems. But all medical procedures have some possible risks. The most common risk with a vasectomy is an infection, but those are usually minor and treatable with antibiotics. You may also have some pain, bleeding, bruising, or swelling after the procedure.

 

Vasectomies don’t prevent STDs.

A vasectomy won’t prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Semen can still carry STDs, even if it doesn’t contain sperm.

The best way to protect yourself and your partner from STDs is to get tested regularly and use condoms.

 

Why should I get a vasectomy?

As men, we get to a point where we are done with procreation and we just want to live the time we have left with the family we have created (or not, to each his own). Getting a vasectomy automatically eliminates the anxiety that comes with an unplanned pregnancy.

“Vasectomy is the least invasive permanent and effective form of birth control,” said Dr Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic, USA. “For couples that desire no further children, it can be a cost-effective way of preventing this from occurring.”

Here’s what a couple of urologists have to say about all that’s good and great about getting snipped:

 

1. Vasectomies are incredibly effective: Men have a less than 1 percent chance of getting a partner pregnant after this procedure. Yes, that’s more effective than rubbers or birth control pills.

2. The risks are low: All surgeries carry risks, but vasectomies are usually uncomplicated. There is about a 2 to 3 percent chance of infection, bleeding, or pain. Significant pain may occur in up to 10 percent of men, often resulting from the accumulation of sperm upstream of the vasectomy.

3. It shouldn’t affect sexual functioning: Vasectomies involve cutting the tube that transports sperm, there is no change in hormones, and the penis is not part of the procedure. For most men, sexual functioning is no different post-vasectomy. “Sexual function rarely changes after the procedure, except in the case of a patient developing a chronic pain condition,” said Berglund. There may be a 10 per cent drop in the volume of fluid that comes out during ejaculation, but Dr Michael Eisenberg, a urologist at Stanford Health Care, says men and their partners are unlikely to notice a difference.

4. You still make sperm: Vasectomies don’t halt sperm production, they keep your swimmers from coming out and the sperm are eventually reabsorbed into the body. Men who’ve been snipped may be inspired to contemplate the strange reality of absorbing their unused sex cells (something that the female body does too).

5. It’s quick: Picturing a lengthy operation? Berglund said that the whole procedure takes about 10 minutes. Eisenberg added five more minutes for setup and cleanup. The whole appointment takes about an hour.

6. …Ad it’s usually done in the doctor’s office: This surgery is so simple that it’s often done right in your doctor’s office. (On rare occasions, more complicated cases may warrant the use of an operating room.)

7. The surgery is simple: Vasectomies are wonderfully straightforward. The scrotum is opened and the two vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles) are cut and stitched shut. That’s it.

8. You can understand it: Unlike a lot of medical information, the low-down on vasectomies is easy to access and clear to understand.

9. It only requires a local anaesthetic: Being put under can be one of the most dangerous parts of having surgery. Most vasectomies only require local anaesthetic, like lidocaine. “It is often done under local anaesthesia so that one feels a needle initially and then it just feels like an exam,” said Eisenberg.

10. There are no-scalpel vasectomies: This kind of vasectomy uses a special tool to open the scrotum, and the incision is so small that it’s not even stitched closed afterwards.

11. Recovery is fast: Seven to 10 days is the standard time for a full recovery. “While I’ve had men ride horses the next day, I’d prefer that they lay low,” says Eisenberg. He recommends low activity and liberal use of an ice pack for two days and avoiding sexual activity for a week (Sorry).

12. It costs less than kids: Raising a child in Nigeria is a lot of things but cheap. Whilst we strive daily to give them the best quality of life, getting a vasectomy is way cheaper and more definite.

13. Your partner will be grateful: Both Eisenberg and Berglund said that partners (who know about vasectomy) often appreciate the help with birth control. Because there are so many birth control options for women, contraceptive decisions, and actions tend to fall on women in a relationship. Since the balance of responsibility will feel restored, perhaps you can coax her into that one mischief you’ve always wanted.

14. It simplifies sex: So long as you have a committed partner, a successful vasectomy allows for an incredible level of sexual freedom. No more wondering whether she took her pill or if the condom broke. No more late-night runs for pregnancy tests because she feels a little off. This is the safest way to put concerns about an “oops” baby to rest.

15. It’s reversible (technically): Vasectomies should be considered permanent. They are not temporary birth control. Reversing a vasectomy is costly and may not be successful (Eisenberg says about 90 per cent are successful when done by urologists with special training in microsurgery). Insurance rarely covers a vasectomy reversal, so while it may comfort a man to know vasectomy reversals exist, it should not be a factor in deciding whether he will get one. If you want a vasectomy but may still want kids, consider freezing sperm before the surgery.

Vasectomies can be done in private or government hospitals at the average cost of Fifty Thousand Naira only.

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