At Kansas City Urology and Oncology, we are used to lots of uncomfortable questions because we deal with urinary issues that affect very private areas of the body. But, we realize that while this is ordinary for us, it’s anything but ordinary for our patients. Some patients may be hesitant to ask very detailed or specific questions about some of their conditions, symptoms, and treatments. Vasectomies are one of the procedures that tend to elicit the most questions, but some vasectomy questions can be embarrassing.
Know the Facts before a Vasectomy
Since questions about vasectomies can be difficult or embarrassing to ask, we’ve gathered some of the most commonly asked vasectomy questions and provided the answers here. We hope this will help you understand what happens during a vasectomy, know what to expect, and help you make a more informed decision about this procedure.
13 Commonly Asked Questions about Vasectomies
1. What exactly happens, medically speaking, during a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a simple surgery performed for the purpose of birth control. In a vasectomy, the physician cuts off the supply of sperm to the semen by cutting or blocking the vas deferens (the two tubes inside the scrotum that transport mature sperm from the testes to the urethra in preparation for ejaculation).
2. Can a man still ejaculate after a vasectomy?
Yes. A vasectomy doesn’t affect the sex drive or the ability to enjoy sex. Men will have erections and ejaculate, but because the semen doesn’t contain sperm, there is no risk of pregnancy.
3. How long does a vasectomy usually last?
A typical vasectomy takes about 20-25 minutes. The surgeon will remove a small section of the vas deferens through a small incision in the scrotum.
4. Is it painful to have a vasectomy?
The procedure isn’t painful, because the scrotum and surrounding area are numbed before the incision is made, but some patients may feel a small pinch with the anesthetic injection. Some men also describe a pulling or tugging sensation when the vas deferens tubes are handled, but the discomfort generally lasts just a few moments.
5. Are there any risks involved with a vasectomy?
The most common risk is infection, but infections are usually minor and treated with antibiotics. Pain, bleeding, bruising, or swelling are common after the procedure, but only last for a couple of weeks. In rare cases, the testicular artery may be hurt during vasectomy. Very rarely, a man may develop post-vasectomy pain syndrome. PVPS involves chronic pain in one or both testicles that is still present three months after the procedure. This pain can be rare, and a dull ache or sharp and constant.
6. Does a vasectomy affect size?
No, the size, shape, and look of the penis, testicles, and scrotum remain unchanged. Men will continue to ejaculate the same way in the same amounts, just with no sperm in the semen. Sperm adds very little to the semen volume.
7. Will my sense of orgasm be changed by having a vasectomy?
Ejaculation and orgasm are not affected by the vasectomy procedure. A vasectomy shouldn’t have any impact on your sexual performance, sex drive, ejaculation, or erectile function.
8. How long after a vasectomy before a man is considered sterile?
Generally, it takes 15-20 ejaculations to ensure any remaining sperm are flushed out of each vas deferens. Alternative birth control methods should be used during this time.
9. Can a vasectomy fail?
It is possible for a vasectomy to fail, but the chances are very low. Ocassionally, sperm leaking from one end of the cut vas deferens find their way to the other cut end. The doctor will confirm sterility with a sperm test. Until confirmation of sterility, using another form of birth control is recommended.
10. Can I develop erectile dysfunction after a vasectomy?
A vasectomy does not cause erectile dysfunction.
11. Is a vasectomy reversible?
The vas deferens can be surgically reconnected in a procedure called vasectomy reversal. However, a successful vasectomy reversal does not always result in pregnancy and the longer it has been since the vasectomy, the less likely it is that the reversal will work. If you don’t want to have vasectomy reversal, sperm can be taken from the testicle or the epididymis and used for in vitro fertilization. These procedures can be expensive and most are not covered by health insurance. Also, the success rates are not always good. If you plan to have children, it’s best to have sperm frozen and stored before your vasectomy or consider non-permanent forms of birth control before deciding to have a vasectomy.
12. Can my partner tell if I have had a vasectomy?
Your partner may sometimes be able to feel the vasectomy site. This is particularly true if you have developed a granuloma. A granuloma is a small nodule that forms at the site of an infection or inflammation caused by immune cells clumping together. Granulomas are the body’s way to contain an area of bacterial, viral or fungal infection to keep it from spreading, or to isolate irritants or foreign objects.
13. Are vasectomies covered by health insurance?
Usually, health insurance companies will usually cover most or all of your vasectomy costs after your yearly deductible has been met. Medicaid or other state programs may also cover the cost of a vasectomy.