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What Men Need to Know About Getting a Vasectomy

Here are some fast facts about the sterilization procedure.

So, you’re considering a vasectomy. Maybe it’s because you’ve simply decided that your family is the size it needs to be and you don’t want any more children. Or maybe there were pregnancy complications that arose during the birth of your last child and, to avoid such outcomes again, the procedure is needed. A vasectomy, or the surgical cutting of the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicles and out into the world, is a common procedure. Still, it’s one (“you’re going to cut what?”) that sends chills up any man’s spine — or nether region. So, what do you need to know about vasectomies, and even vasectomy reversal? Here are some fast facts.

What Is a Vasectomy?

A vasectomy isn’t major surgery, but it’s not like getting a cavity filled, either. It’s a sterilization procedure that cuts or blocks the vasa deferentia, the tubes in your testicles that transport your swimmers (again, jargon for sperm). No swimmers, no baby.

When Is It the Right Option?

According to the World Health Organization vasectomies are safer, simpler, and about half the cost of female sterilization procedures. And recently experts debunked the idea that it may increase your chance of prostate cancer.

What Types of Vasectomies Are There?

So, there are two types of vasectomies: incision and non-incision. The incision procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes. A patient is put under and the doctor makes a small cut on each of side of the scrotum, or one straight down the middle. They go in and remove a small section of each vas deferens, and the tubes are either tied off (just with a knot — no fancy balloon animal-type stuff), blocked with surgical clips, or cauterized with an electric current. The latter was the vasectomy method practiced for years, and probably the reason so many men are freaked out by the idea of getting one.

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A non-incision vasectomy is a faster procedure and doesn’t require the patient to be put under. Developed in China in 1974, it’s becoming the more standard method. Doctors makes a single tiny puncture to reach both tubes. From there, it’s all pretty much the same. Other advantages of non-incision: You won’t need stitches, there’s reduced risk of infection or bruising, and you can recover quicker.

Recovery Time Is, Normally, Pretty Fast

After a standard vasectomy procedure, you’ll need to avoid strenuous exercise for about a week, but most guys who are already healthy are fine getting back to work after a few days. At most, you might need a week or so of rest while you ice your boys and pop a couple of over-the-counter pain killers. Or, you can use your vasectomy as an excuse to catch all of March Madness — which is a thing.

Yes, You Can Still Orgasm

Most men are able to start having sex again in about a week after the procedure, and in some cases even sooner. Also, cutting off the vas deferens doesn’t mean a puff of smoke comes out during climax. Sperm only makes up a small percentage of your seminal fluid. Your body still produces it, and your testicles still produce the goods. It’s just that instead of passing sperm through the vas deferens to be blended with the fluid to become semen, it’s just absorbed back into your body.

Is It the Best Option?

Until the FDA approves a male birth control pill, a vasectomy is probably your best bet to guarantee your wife won’t get pregnant. If you’re not 100 percent certain you’re done having kids, you should probably hold off. You can opt for a vasectomy reversal in some cases, but there are no guarantees — except that it’ll be difficult and expensive. Just ask Michael Scott.