Dr. Andy Oakes-Lottridge / December 14, 2010
Birth control is typically thought of as a woman’s issue. She takes the pill. She requires her partner to use a condom. She gets her tubes tied. However, twenty percent of men over 35 years of age have had a vasectomy. Some would say that number should be much higher.
Before I go any further, I have to make a public apology to our excellent local urologists, several of which I know personally. When it came to getting my own vasectomy, I was too much of a coward to have it done by someone I know.
So last week I met Dr. Doug Stein for the first, and hopefully last, time. As an urologist specializing in vasectomies, he travels the state doing just that. Some of you may know him from his billboard ads on I-75.
Lying out on the table in a more than vulnerable position gave me a new appreciation for what my wife goes through every year with her gynecologist. I few pinches, some small talk with Dr. Stein as he worked, and fifteen minutes later I joined our dog as the second neutered animal in the house. Overall, a much easier process than I had imagined, hence the apology again to my urology friends.
While many have also seen the billboards advertising vasectomy reversal, I strongly urge my patients to consider vasectomy as a permanent form of male birth control. I would go further to say that as long as we guys can get one, there is no reason for our female partner
s to consider having their tubes tied; a significantly more involved and potentially dangerous surgery compared to a relatively simple vasectomy.
Sperm normally are produced in the testicles and travel through a network of channels called the epididymis. The sperm then travel through tubes called the vas deferens which travel from the testicles, up and behind the bladder, and end in the prostate gland. Vasectomy is a simple office procedure where the vas deferens are cut to prevent sperm from leaving the testicles. The procedure is over 99% effective.
Let’s dispel some common miss-perceptions about vasectomies. The volume and quality of the ejaculate does not change perceptibly, since the sperm only makes up a small amount of it. The majority of the ejaculate is made up of secretions from glands near the prostate. The healing time is usually only a few days, and unlike tubal ligation surgery for women, vasectomies do not require any general anesthesia or sedation. About 24-48 hours of light activity is typically the only recovery needed by most men. It is also typical to have no change in sexual interest or function once one has fully recovered.
For me, I guess it is time to turn to a new chapter of my life. No more kids! I guess I will just have to make do with the four wonderful ones with which I was blessed.