How Effective Is Vasectomy?

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Doctor in his consulting room measures the blood pressure of a patient

Thirty-three percent of men over 30 in New Zealand have had a vasectomy. That number jumps to nearly 50% of men over the age of 50. If you are male and live in Atlanta, or anywhere else in the United States, the chances that you’ve had a vasectomy drop to just 15%. The procedure simply hasn’t been as popular in the United States, but that is beginning to change. More and more men have begun to recognize how effective, simple, and affordable vasectomy can be.

Effectiveness of Vasectomy

The odds of pregnancy after vasectomy are just 1 in 1000, a success rate of 99.9%. That makes vasectomy the most effective form of birth control outside of complete abstinence, but there is a catch. A vasectomy is only considered effective when no sperm can be detected in the semen. Because sperm can survive in the vas deferens for several months after a vasectomy, it is possible for a successful vasectomy to result in pregnancy.

The way to avoid the problem mentioned above is to provide semen samples to your physician, who will look for viable sperm. Once a sample shows no viable sperm, then there is virtually no chance of pregnancy. By following up with your physician after your vasectomy, you will know when it is safe to have sex without a condom and will know if you are one of the roughly 1 in 2,000 cases in which the first vasectomy is unsuccessful and the procedure must be repeated. Georgia Urology recommends keeping all of your follow-up visits and using back-up contraception until the success of your vasectomy can be confirmed.

It is important to note that vasectomy does not protect against STDs. Condoms and abstinence are the only effective means of preventing most STDs. Vasectomies are strictly designed to prevent pregnancy.

Advances in Technique

In a traditional vasectomy, two incisions are made in the scrotum to give access to the vas deferens (two tubes that connect the testicles to the penis and carry sperm). This procedure leaves a small scar and takes about thirty minutes. A newer procedure uses a pin-hole, rather than an incision, through which the vas deferens can be pulled and cut before being returned to the scrotum. This “no-scalpel” vasectomy takes just ten minutes and most men can’t tell where the procedure was performed. Patients experience less pain and faster recovery with the no-scalpel technique. The procedure is just as effective as the standard vasectomy.