When we as blokes, arrive at the decision with our partners that the pitter-patter of tiny feet, 2am feeds and toxic nappies are not on the agenda anymore, then some form of permanent contraception is one possible pathway. There are options for the ladies in our lives, but those options can involve major surgery and unwanted side effects. The male version in terms of permanent surgical sterilization is the vasectomy and by comparison it’s minor surgery with little to no side effects.

The first question is, what exactly is a vasectomy? Quite simply it is the cutting and sealing of the tubes (vas deferens) that carries sperm from the testes to the penis. It’s usually done under local anaesthetic via a very small incision on each side of the scrotum, and despite “The Snip” being the slang term, it doesn’t usually involve scissors.

The most important question in many bloke’s minds is, “does it hurt?” and we’re well within our rights to ask this. We’ve already spent a lifetime keeping our crown jewels out of harm’s way and on the odd occasion that we haven’t, well, it hasn’t ended well. The short answer is no. Some bruising and slight discomfort over the first couple of days is normal but not debilitating.  A warning to my three-year-old daughter not to jump off the end of the lounge into my lap four hours after surgery would have been useful in hindsight and I definitely wouldn’t suggest riding your bike home after the op!

An important point to keep in mind, is the fact that the sperm already in your reproductive system will remain viable little swimmers for up to 3 months or until “the pipes are clear”. It’s not uncommon for couples to fall pregnant in the months immediately following a vasectomy, an irony not immediately all that humorous to those affected.

A lot of guys worry that it will affect their experience of sex however this typically isn’t the case, as outwardly there is no visible difference to ejaculate nor usually any change to sensation. The vasectomy in no way interferes with erectile function nor with orgasm which no doubt is a relief to those considering the procedure.

A vasectomy should be considered permanent even though there is a procedure known as a vasectomy reversal. A successful reversal is by no means guaranteed, with success anywhere between 40-90 % but falling away rapidly with age, time between surgeries and other complications. For this reason, you need to be absolutely certain; besides, repeat operations on our “agates” don’t figure very highly on anyone’s “to do” list.

To decide whether a vasectomy is right for you, “the ball’s in your court” so to speak.  You need to be sure that you and your partner have completed your family and that you want to take responsibility for family planning. On the flip side, a vasectomy is not something to be rushed into if you are relatively young; recently separated, divorced or having relationship problems.

So, all in all it’s a decision you and your partner need to make together.

Glen and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative

delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)

PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401

Phone: 08 9690 2277

Email: menshealth@4blokes.com.au