So, maybe it’s because you don’t want children at all or you’re done growing your family. For whatever reason, you’ve decided to get a vasectomy.
Now, which vasectomy option should you choose?
Although the original scalpel vasectomy method, developed 100 years ago, remains one of the most effective means of birth control, methods that address any potential pain and complications associated with the procedure have recently been introduced.
But how do you decide which vasectomy technique is the right one for you?
Vasectomy 101: The Basic Procedure
If you think back to ninth grade health class, you’ll recall that sperm are produced in the testicles and are escorted out via the vas deferens to join the semen during ejaculation. The goal of a vasectomy is to prevent sperm from leaving the testes and making ejaculate a party that only semen is invited to.
During a vasectomy, your urologist goes into the scrotum to snip (or sometimes clip) the vas deferens and render a man sterile.
The 5 Types of Vasectomy
- Scalpel Vasectomy: This is the old-school procedure for a vasectomy, which is performed in your doctor’s office, and entails a surgeon making an incision in the scrotum with a scalpel after the area has been numbed with a local anesthetic. A small section of the vas deferens is removed and the snipped ends are either cauterized or stitched closed. The technique is almost 100 percent effective after a waiting period following the procedure to ensure all sperm have been eliminated (be sure to use birth control during that waiting period).
- No-Scalpel Vasectomy: In an effort to reduce trauma to the scrotum and vas deferens, this minimally-invasive vasectomy surgical method uses a unique puncture technique. The doctor feels for the vas deferens through the scrotum and then carefully pricks a small hole to access the vas deferens, and then proceeds like a traditional vasectomy. The no-scalpel vasectomy is associated with a lower risk of blood clots and infection, as well as less pain during and after the procedure.
- Laser Vasectomy: Relatively new and still not widely available, with this technique the surgeon uses a laser to access and isolate the vas deferens. Once that is done, traditional vasectomy techniques are employed to seal the ends. Studies have yet to show any real advantage over the no-scalpel technique.
- No-Needle Vasectomy: This type of vasectomy addresses the means in which the scrotum is numbed. Instead of a local anesthetic, the doctor uses a hypospray injector that gives a small blast of compressed air to push medication below the skin and into the vas and scrotal sac.
- Clip Vasectomy: For men not 100 percent committed to permanent sterility, the clip method offers a better chance for future reversal of the vasectomy. Instead of clipping and cauterizing the ends of the vas deferens, a titanium clip is attached instead to prevent sperm from traveling from the testes to the penis during ejaculation. But this method comes with a few issues. If the clip is too loose, sperm may still flow from the scrotum and increase the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. If the doctor’s adjustment is too tight, it may cause permanent damage to the vas deferens and make a reversal impossible.
No matter which surgical procedure you choose for your vasectomy, sterility is not immediate and you need to wait about three months—or about 20 ejaculations—before having unprotected sex. SpermCheck is a quick and easy way to test your sperm count at home and can help you determine whether your vasectomy, no matter which method you chose, was a success.