March Madness gives basketball lovers a chance to create a personalized bracket with their favorite NCAA teams and watch their results unfold. In recent years, healthcare companies across the country have noticed a surprising related trend: a bump in the number of vasectomies scheduled around March Madness. After all, it’s the perfect time to rest and binge watch all the action.
While a weekend of basketball may influence a man on when he schedules his vasectomy, it won’t help a man decide if he wants one. That’s why we asked ProMedica urologist Timothy Schuster, MD, to answer some common questions about vasectomies to determine if it’s the right procedure for you if you’re considering one.
Q: What is a vasectomy?
A: A vasectomy is a way to permanently sterilize a man. It is done by cutting and sealing the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from your testicles to your urethra. This prevents fertilization by blocking sperm from mixing with seminal fluid before it’s ejaculated.
How long does the procedure take?
The outpatient procedure can last anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes and can be done under local anesthesia. Men are able to drive themselves home after; however, it may be a little uncomfortable.
How long is recovery?
A couple days of little to no physical activity are necessary. Some men place frozen peas or bags of ice on the area to minimize soreness.
What are some common misconceptions about vasectomies?
One of the most common misconceptions is that the testicles are disrupted; however the sterilization happens because of the interruption of sperm flow. Your body will continue to make sperm after a vasectomy but it will be reabsorbed into your body. Vasectomies do not affect testosterone levels, sex drive or the man’s ability to have an erection. Multiple studies have also shown that there is no connection between a vasectomy and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
How soon can I have sex after a vasectomy?
Most men are able to resume sexual activity one week after their vasectomy. However, you will need to use alternative forms of contraception until we confirm that the vasectomy worked. At our office, we ask men to drop off samples starting two months after the procedure and we continue to check every 3-4 weeks until two samples in a row show no sperm. At that point, we let the man know that they can stop using alternate birth control.
Do vasectomies ever fail?
It is possible, which is why the post-op checks are important. The only way you will know if the procedure failed is by dropping off a specimen or if your partner gets pregnant. Unfortunately, not even half of all men who receive a vasectomy comply with the post-op check, which we counsel our patients to do during the initial visit. We also encourage men to recheck annually, as there are rare reports of late failures, when specimens tested negative for sperm but then tested positive over time.
What can a man expect at the initial visit?
Before the vasectomy, you’ll come in for an initial consult with the urologist to discuss the procedure. This will also include a physical exam.
Are vasectomies reversible?
Yes, some vasectomies may be reversed, but the reversal process isn’t always successful and insurance rarely pays for it. Data shows that about 3% of men who get a vasectomy get a reversal. However, you should consider a vasectomy to be permanent.