health

This form of permanent contraception is more common than you think

thinking about getting a vasectomy

New effective contraception for men will be available soon! So says this New York Times article from 30 years ago.

Every six months or so, we hear a new report about the imminent release of a male contraceptive pill (like this one from last week). And yet, year after year, the weight of contraceptive options is still borne by women.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Dr Marie. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in her own words.

Pills, implants, injectables, rings, caps – The Economist has described the contraceptive options available to women as a “trip through Willy Wonka’s Factory”. From my perspective, a trip through Willy Wonka’s factory is a better description of what I eat while I’m hormonal, but the comparison is well made. When it comes to temporary and permanent contraception, women are relatively well-versed in the variety of options that are available.

So, how can men come to the party on contraception?

Er…the list of options is not long. In fact, after condoms, there is only one other reliable option for men: vasectomy. Like tube ligation for women, it’s a permanent form of contraception. But unlike the major surgery involved in tube ligation, a vasectomy is a minor procedure using local anaesthetic that takes about half an hour – and you can drive yourself home afterwards (probably not on a pushbike, though).

“Let’s talk about vasectomy…” Sounds like a conversation killer for couples, right? Not necessarily. Recent consumer research* shows that men are not as likely as you’d expect to shy away from talking about it.

In fact, the majority of men who have had a vasectomy have said that they were the ones who raised the idea with their partners – and predominately it is the men who do the research on the procedure.

It seems when blokes decide to do it, they mean business: it generally takes them less than six months from the initial conversation to having the procedure.

How does it happen? Well the process is pretty straight forward. Men thinking about getting a vasectomy go to a clinic or an out-patient facility at a hospital where an experienced doctor performs the procedure, which takes less than thirty minutes. A local anaesthetic numbs the area and a very small incision is made in the front of the scrotum. Through this opening, each of the vas deferens (sperm tubes) is cut and sealed off. This means that sperm produced in the testicles can no longer travel through the tubes to mix with semen – so the seminal fluid gradually becomes free of sperm.

Upshot: when you ejaculate, there is no sperm in your semen. The bus still leaves the station, but there are no passengers on it.

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It takes a few months for the semen to be free of sperm, but after that it’s all love and no glove (except to protect against STDs – a vasectomy doesn’t do that). The scar on the scrotum disappears and the male hormones are unaffected. Back to your regular programming.

After a vasectomy, you need to lay off contact sports for a fortnight, and take a day or so off work (especially if contact sports or other vigorous physical activities are your job). I am reliably informed that regular painkillers and a bag of frozen peas are the weapons of choice against tenderness and swelling. Take it easy for a few days. You can even get back to the “sport of love” as soon as you feel comfortable with it.

Like tube ligation for women, if you’re thinking about getting a vasectomy it should be considered a permanent option. Satisfaction rates are high – people who have a vasectomy are glad that they did. Consumer research shows that 97% of men who had a vasectomy were satisfied with their procedure and had no regrets. Only 2% regret their vasectomy and 1% considered a reversal. Reversals are possible, but by no means guaranteed.

Permanent contraception for women involves a major operation under general anaesthetic in a hospital operating room. But for men, it is a minor procedure under local anaesthetic. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s the choice of more than 21,000 men every year in this country**.

So, while we wait for science to deliver on its big talk about the male pill, for couples who have finished their family or who have decided not to have children, vasectomies are a viable, safe and reliable form of permanent contraception .

Article References:

* Survey of Men’s Health: Vasectomy, Feb 2013, by Dr Marie

** Medicare item report, Vasectomy Dec 2011 – Nov 2012, Australian Government, Department of Human Services.

thinking about getting a vasectomy

Dr Marie provides caring and non-judgemental sexual and reproductive healthcare services – including vasectomy – throughout our network of Australian centres. We are part of Marie Stopes International, a global not-for-profit organisation. Surplus proceeds from each procedure are donated to saving lives in more than 40 developing countries.

For more information, visit their website.

This post is sponsored by Dr Marie. Comments on this post are just for this post. If you have questions about sponsored posts or the choice of advertisers please click here.

Have you or your partner been thinking about getting a vasectomy as a form of contraception? Would you ever consider it?

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