Birth Control Options
What is it?
Male sterilization (also known as a vasectomy) is a surgical procedure to permanently close or block the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis). The male is still able to ejaculate during sex, but the fluid does not contain any sperm. The procedure is a minor operation and is considered permanent because reversal is difficult and expensive.
How does it work?
A vasectomy can be done in a physician's office, hospital or clinic. After giving a local anaesthetic to freeze the scrotum, the physician makes one or two small incisions in the scrotum so the vas deferens can be reached. The tubes are then cut and the ends tied, stitched or clipped. Once the tubes are blocked, no sperm are released in the man's ejaculate (semen). If there are no sperm present, a woman's egg cannot be fertilized.
A vasectomy will not affect sexual drive and there will be no noticeable change in the volume of ejaculate. However, the man may still have sperm in his ejaculate for up to 3 months after the surgery. Therefore, another form of contraception is required until a follow-up semen analysis shows no sperm.
How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
- A vasectomy is considered 99.9% effective
- The main reason for failure after a vasectomy is because back-up contraception was not used between the time of surgery and the follow-up semen analysis.
What are the advantages?
- The most effective method of contraception controlled by a male
- Permanent method of contraception
- Does not interfere with intercourse
- No significant long term side effects
- Less invasive and more cost-effective than female sterilization
What are the disadvantages?
- Considered permanent; difficult to have reversed
- May regret decision in the future
- Possible short-term surgery related complications include: pain, bruising & swelling, infection at the incision site
- Not effective immediately. Need follow-up semen analysis that shows no sperm are present in the semen.
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections