To be snipped or not?
The tubes that carry sperm fromthe testes (balls) to form partof the seminal fluid (what isejaculated) are cut or blocked offto prevent sperm from leaving thebody to cause pregnancy.(Photo: Pexels)

BIRTH control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. There are less reliable methods such as the 'pull out technique' and others such as condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), birth control pills, the rhythm method, tubal ligation and vasectomy.

For the majority, the onus is on the female and even if a steady couple has completed their family, there is great fear from the male counterpart that a vasectomy may negatively affect their sex life. But is that fear unfounded or real?

A vasectomy is a relatively simple surgery done by a urologist in an office, hospital or clinic. The tubes that carry sperm from the testes (balls) to form part of the seminal fluid (what is ejaculated) are cut or blocked off to prevent sperm from leaving the body to cause pregnancy. A vasectomy is meant to be permanent and so it can't usually be reversed. Consequently, it should be only considered if you're 100 per cent sure you don't want to get someone pregnant for the rest of your life.

What happens immediately after the procedure?

You may be able to see or not see the resulting scars as the cuts are very small, two small incisions on the scrotum. There is usually mild discomfort and very little swelling, if any at all. Once completely healed, in a few weeks the scar will likely be hard to identify. It's advised that you should not have sex without a barrier method until three months after the procedure. At three months, your semen should not have any sperm. A semen analysis should confirm this. It's reassuring to note that vasectomies won't change the way having an orgasm or ejaculating feels. Your semen will still look, feel and taste the same way after.

What's so good about vasectomies?

1. They are usually quick and easy. There is a low chance of infection, bleeding or pain. It's a lot easier than tubal ligation.

2. Quick recovery. It usually takes about 6- 10 days to heal completely. Most men use an ice pack for a couple of days post procedure.

3. Worry-free sex. This is especially so if you're in a committed relationship, to the point where worrying about STIs and an unplanned pregnancy is a thing of the past. This method is pretty much 100 per cent effective as a method of birth control.

4. You're a true team player. Let's be real, your partner had to do a lot of the work in giving birth to one, two or more children. She carried the pregnancies for nine months, enduring multiple changes and stress on her body, including labour and the risk of post-partum depression amongst other things. Getting a vasectomy, if you've both agreed that your family is complete, is one way of demonstrating that you're a team player and, so to speak, taking one for the team.

Common questions men ask out of fear regarding getting vasectomies include:

1.Will I have an orgasm after?

Answer: Sex will be the same as it was before.

2. Suppose nothing comes out when I orgasm?

Answer: The sperm make up a small part of the seminal fluid so the volume will not be reduced by much.

3. Will the surgical knife cut the wrong thing in that area?

Answer: One of the two popular methods is known as the no-scalpel technique in which the incision is so small that no sutures are needed afterwards. The other technique/s involve very small and safe incisions.

In summary, a vasectomy is an effective, convenient and permanent form of birth control. It will take the stress of potential pregnancy off your partner and allow for increased intimacy. However, it does not protect against STIs so one must still be mindful to get tested where necessary.

DR JEREMY THOMAS
BY DR JEREMY THOMAS

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