Vasectomy- the most effective male contraceptive
Many men may be squeamish to entertain the thought of an operation to their penis, but for those seeking a permanent form of birth control; vasectomy is a reliable and common procedure.
In the operation, a very small skin incision is made that involves cutting the tubes (vas deferens) that allow the sperm to travel to the penis. The surgery is done on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to leave the hospital, clinic or doctor’s office the same day. The procedure is performed by a urologist and done under local anesthesia, with some intravenous sedation.
In most cases, statistics say, the procedure is performed when a couple has decided they want no children, or no more children, and/or would like a permanent and guaranteed contraceptive.
The only thing vasectomy change about the male organ is that it does not allow the sperm to exit; rather, the residual sperm are broken down and dissipate within the body’s own cells. The hormonal levels are not affected. Thus the sexual desire, ability to have an erection, and ability to ejaculate are all normal.
Contrary to what some may believe, vasectomy has no affect on the male hormones. There is no change in libido, or ability to have sex. Erections and orgasms remain the same.
Close to half a million vasectomies are performed annually in the United States. Statistics Canada and the Canadian Medical Association do not have numbers for procedures of vasectomies. But, the US Bureau of Statistics says that less than one in twenty Black men have it done.
In the journal Family Planning Perspective, a rare study on the topic examined the statistics and reasons for fewer Black vasectomies. Even though the study focused solely on married men in the United States, the results are telling.
It showed that Black couples are significantly less likely to rely on sterilization, and when they do choose it, the female is most likely to have a sterilization procedure.
Moreover, the study said that, “Use of male sterilization is strongly associated with having had a recent contraceptive failure while using a male method.”
However, men were more likely to have been sterilized if the couple had been married for 12 years or longer. “It is possible,” says the study, that, “[Blacks] are less informed about the procedure and its consequences.”
One of those consequences to consider would be that pregnancy happens after a vasectomy in about one in every 2,000 cases. This is usually because the couple has had unprotected intercourse before the residual, pre-operation sperm has dissipated.
Serious complications after vasectomy are rare. Pain, bleeding and some redness at the incision site may occur in a few individuals. Rarer still is the sperm remnants may build up and require removal.
Even though vasectomy does not cause prostate cancer, as a precaution, the American Urological Association (AUA) recommends that men over 40 who had a vasectomy more than 20 years previously should have an annual test for prostate cancer.
Vasectomy, it should be noted, does not protect against sexually transmitted disease. For those who engage in high risk sexual behavior and have multiple sex partners, use of condoms is the best protection.
Finally, it should be noted that reversal of vasectomies are possible, but never guaranteed. At best, only a third to a half of individuals are able to have their vasectomies reversed successfully.