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01 March 2018

I had a vasectomy – this is what it’s really like

Men's Health South Africa editor Arthur Jones recently had a vasectomy. He's here to bust myths, not balls.

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That V word strikes fear into men’s hearts and, more importantly, their balls.

The good news for you: I’m your test pilot. I’ve had the op (and survived with my balls and testosterone levels intact) and I’ve asked my urologist all the stupid questions so you don’t have to.

I decided to get a vasectomy for two reasons. Firstly, my wife and I have two kids, and we’re very happy for it to stay that way. Secondly, getting a vasectomy is a way safer and more effective option than any of the long-term contraceptive options available to my wife.

But it is a permanent procedure, so it’s important for you to be completely sure you don’t want any more children in the future.

The fear most guys have of getting a vasectomy stems from a number of different factors, the biggest being ignorance and fear of the unknown.

It’s also made worse by the fact that many of us have had to take our furry best friends to be neutered at the vet – the guilt there is a thing.

Men mistakenly think it will affect your sex god status, make you less of a man, and that the op is painful – all untrue.

I’m here to talk you through the experience, along with my urologist, Dr Luigi Aldera.

Here’s how a vasectomy works

“The testicles make sperm which are carried into the body via two small tubes to storage areas near the prostate gland,” explains Dr Aldera. “These tubes are divided during a vasectomy so that the sperm can no longer get through.”

The night before the op, you have to shave your scrotum and surrounding area to help prevent infection. My wife found that funny.

Read more: The most surprising side effect of a vasectomy

You also have to decide whether you want to be put under for the op (general anaesthetic) or to be awake (local anaesthetic, which completely numbs the operation area).

I chose the local option, so I was awake and aware the entire time. It was a little weird to hear what was happening during the operation (especially the actual snipping sounds), but there was no pain.

On the day of the op, I went into hospital at 08:00 on a Tuesday morning, the operation took roughly 40 minutes, and once I had peed out the residual anaesthetic, I drove myself home by lunchtime. I was surprised by how quickly it went, and I was back in the office the next day.

Here are some frequently asked questions, answered by Dr Aldera.

Will it affect my sex life?

No. “There is no affect on sex drive or ability,” says Dr Aldera. “Some men confuse sexual function with reproductive function. A vasectomy doesn’t affect your erections or the feeling and sensation in ejaculation. Your orgasm doesn’t change.”

In fact, some research shows that couples who aren’t worried about unwanted pregnancy are likely to hop into bed more often! This study showed that getting a vasectomy might give your sex life a huge boost.

Is it painful?

No. “The op is done under local or general anaesthetic, according to preference and it does not hurt. The area may ache slightly during the first evening, but Aspirin or Panado tablets will help. Men fear the procedure, and for a lot of guys, it’s their first visit to the hospital, theatre and surgery,” explains Dr Aldera.

“But you do need to appreciate it is an operation, therefore potential for discomfort and infection is always there.” You get one or two dissolving stitches (they take a week or so to break down) and a waterproof dressing (which comes off after three days).

“You shouldn’t do any strenuous activity for a week, but you can go to work the next day,” says Dr Aldera.

Will I still ejaculate when I orgasm?

Yes. Here’s a fact that many guys don’t know about their semen: only 2–5% of what you ejaculate is actually sperm. The rest of the fluid comes from your prostate, seminal vesicles and other parts. So the only difference to your semen after you have a vasectomy is that 2–5% of sperm.

“At the climax of the sex act, the ejaculated fluid is free of sperm and slightly clearer,” Dr Aldera says.

Does the op work straight away?

No! This is an important one. “Because there are storage areas for sperm inside the body (and sperm still in the tubes), it takes time for all the sperm to come out,” Dr Aldera. He recommends plenty of sex to get that sperm out, but using other forms contraception!

You should also wait four to five days after the op before having sex (and there’s no discomfort). To be safe, you need to have your semen tested three months after the op – if there’s no sperm, you are clear to stop the other forms of contraception.

Read more: This guy had a vasectomy… and then got his wife pregnant twice

Is it reversible?

For your sake, no. Don’t count on changing your mind. Make sure you are mentally prepared to not have any more kids. “In some cases, reversal can be attempted, or the sperm harvested for in-vitro fertilisation,” says Dr Aldera.

That’s because your balls are still producing sperm, but they can’t get out, and they dissolve away. However, the reversal is not something to count on as it’s a difficult op and in-vitro fertilisation is costly.

Is it failproof?

No. “The only 100% effective contraception is complete abstinence, but of all methods of contraception, vasectomy is the safest,” says Dr Aldera. “There are no hormonal side-effects and it’s a simple, uncomplicated procedure.”

Read more: 8 signs you have low testosterone levels

This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za

Image credit: iStock 

 
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