In times gone by it was generally felt that birth control was the explicit domain and responsibility of the woman. After all, how difficult could it possibly be to pop a pill every day of your life?
Nowadays methods of birth control and general attitudes of modern couples have changed considerably. Along with taking the responsibility of sharing parenting roles, household chores and the like many modern men are not at all averse to taking personal responsibility for birth control. One method that is gaining popularity because of its general safety is the vasectomy.
Procedure is quick and effective
A vasectomy is a relatively quick, straightforward and safe medical procedure in which the vas deferens or the tubes that carry the male sperm are cut or blocked. According to Dr Attie Visser, an Urologist practicing at the Netcare Garden City Hospital and Netcare Krugersdorp Hospital, a vasectomy is one of the most effective and safest means of birth control and is highly recommended for those men who no longer wish to have children. For this reason they have become increasingly popular procedures.
“A vasectomy is a far easier and less risky operation than a female sterilisation procedure, which is why many couples feel it is the best option available,” notes Dr Visser. “Some older couples also feel that is preferable for the man to have a vasectomy rather than rely on condoms for birth control, which may be unreliable as they can break or slip off. The female pill also has side effects and is even considered
dangerous for older women to use.”
No reversal of the vasectomy
For all of this Dr Visser emphasises that a vasectomy is only for those men who are completely sure that their days of having children are over. “A vasectomy may sometimes be reversed with microsurgery. Some men change their minds when, for example, they get divorced and decide they want children with a new partner. However, it is not always possible to reverse the procedure and for this reason we do not recommend vasectomies for those men who are not completely certain that they no longer want children. Those who are considering a vasectomy must think about it carefully and seriously.”
There are different ways to tie or seal off the vas deferens, says Dr Visser. It can be disconnected by cutting a piece out of it. This ensures that it is properly disconnected and there is no possibility of it being able to carry the sperm. Another procedure that is performed overseas by some practitioners is to clip the vas deferentia to shut off the flow of sperm. This method may have a better chance of being reversed than the other procedures. All methods are more or less equally effective.
“This is a quick procedure, which takes between five and 10 minutes to complete both sides,” continues Dr Visser. “It is usually done in theatre, under sterile conditions, while the patient is under anaesthetic. Some practitioners perform the procedure under local anaesthetic, but I prefer full anaesthetic. The procedure is completed very quickly, the patient only has to spend a very short period under the anaesthetic and he tends to be less stressed about the procedure than he might have been under a local anaesthetic.”
“Both sides are done through one little opening. One or two small sutures are made in the scrotum, once finished. These dissolve on their own. The patient goes home as soon as he is awake and 99% of patients are back at work the following day.”
Dr Visser notes that all operations carry the risk of complications, but they are very uncommon with this procedure, affecting less than 1% of patients. Most complications involve secondary bleeding or a secondary infection in the area.
Doesn’t affect sex drive
“The most common concern that men have after a vasectomy is that it will affect their sexual abilities. In fact sperm only forms a small part of a man’s seminal fluid and sexual drive, performance and enjoyment remain the same as before. Indeed, some men consider themselves better off because they no longer worry that their wives or girlfriends could become pregnant and find that they are therefore more relaxed about sex.”
A patient should keep in mind that they may not be completely sterile until some two months after the procedure. They should therefore avoid sex or use other precautions during this time. After two months he should have his sperm count taken to ensure that all sperm is washed out. Only then can he have sex without employing other birth control precautions.
“Quick, easy and safe, a vasectomy is a wise option for those men and couples who have decided they do not want to have any more children or to have children at all,” concludes Dr Visser. (Netcare Garden City Hospital, August 2010)