What Is Vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a minor operation that is designed as a permanent method of birth control. The doctor is able to cut and block off the small tubes which carry sperm from the testicles to the seminal vesicles which produce the major portion of the ejaculate. Once successful, the man is sterile and can no longer father children.

Making The Decision To Undergo Vasectomy

Vasectomy must always be considered as a permanent and irreversible procedure. Having stated that, it is technically possible to reverse the procedure, but this is a much more involved operation with lower success rates and no guarantee that the reversal will work. Again, consider vasectomy to be permanent.

It is also important to remember that a vasectomy does not work immediately. There is a period of time required after vasectomy before the semen contains no more sperm. For most men, this period averages 4 months. Until you have had a follow-up sperm count which shows no sperm at all, you should continue with another form of birth control.

One must also remember that vasectomy does not always work. There is a failure rate to this procedure, no matter who performs it or what technique is used. The usual failure, if there is such a thing, happens less than 1% of the time. In this case, the man’s sperm count decreases but does not quite reach zero before it then begins to increase. If two successive sperm counts show an increase in numbers of active sperm, then the procedure has likely failed and should be repeated.

The more uncommon failure is the late failure, which happens in about 1:5,000 to 1:10,000 times. In these men, who have had a completely negative sperm count after vasectomy, the body will somehow manage to again produce semen containing active sperm. This could occur years after the original vasectomy. Why this happens we do not know and to whom it happens we cannot predict, yet we know that , statistically, it will happen with that frequency. Unfortunately, the way that these failures are detected is with an unexpected pregnancy.