What is vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed to make a man sterile or unable to father a child. It's a permanent male birth control measure, and a means of contraception used in many parts of the world.

Generally, vasectomy leaves the patient unchanged except that the vas deferens—the tubes leading to the testes—are blocked. The testes still produce sperm, but the sperm die and are absorbed by the body. A man who's had a vasectomy still produces semen and is able to ejaculate, but the semen doesn't contain sperm and is unable to impregnate. The level of testosterone remains the same and all male sexual characteristics remain the same. For most men, the ability to have an erection is unchanged.

Among married couples in this country, only female sterilization and oral contraception are relied on more often for family planning.

What are the different types of vasectomy?

Can a man have unprotected sex right after a vasectomy?

Although a man can usually resume sexual activity soon after vasectomy, precautions should be taken against pregnancy until a test shows that his semen is free of sperm.

A vasectomy procedure only blocks the vas deferens at the point where it was sealed. The vasectomy has no effect on sperm that are already beyond that point. Therefore, it's important to not have unprotected sexual intercourse until the absence of sperm from the ejaculate has been confirmed with two negative sperm checks, four to six weeks apart. Generally, the test is first performed after the patient has had 10 to 20 postvasectomy ejaculations.

What are the risks or side effects associated with a vasectomy?

Although complications, such as swelling, bruising, inflammation, and infection, may occur after the surgery, they aren't common and usually not serious. Men who, at any time, develop the following symptoms, as defined by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, should contact their doctors:

Consult your doctor regarding any concerns you may have about vasectomy.

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