The facts about Vasectomy

With two children already in primary school and another baby on the way, Gary found himself in a difficult position. His wife was slipping flyers and fact sheets under his nose every other day about vasectomy procedures. It was time to consider his options. 

After scouring the information Jodie had found for him, and the vast selection of pages on the internet, Gary finally made his choice. It was a no-scalpel vasectomy for him, for so many reasons.

Firstly, he was interested in the fact that a no-scalpel vasectomy is a modern alternative to the more traditional surgical vasectomy.

According to Dr Russell Hunter, a highly experienced vasectomy specialist, vasectomy is the safest method of permanent birth control and is offered using a no-scalpel technique that is safe, effective and affordable.

The facts..

The no-scalpel vasectomy is a superior approach to the more traditional surgical vasectomy. The skin of the scrotum in anaesthetised with a small amount of local anaesthetic. Next, a small single pin-point opening is made in the midline of the scrotum. Through this a pair of small grasping forceps is passed to reach each vas deferens. Each vas is then cut and cauterized, which essentially welds each end closed. The tiny skin opening is mostly left open to close spontaneously within 1-2 days.

Vasectomy is not immediately effective because there are still sperm "downstream" in the vas deferens. It takes a number of ejaculations over a period of at least 12 weeks to fully eliminate the sperm. Until samples demonstrate no remaining sperm, another form of birth control must be used and continued to prevent pregnancy.

Vasectomies are almost 100 percent effective but there is a failure rate of about 1 in 2000 patients. Vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of contraception.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a simple procedure where the vas deferens (vas) is cut to cause sterilisation in a male.

The vas is a tube that carries sperm from the testicles, where it is made, to the penis. On the way, sperm is joined by semen so your ejaculate contains both sperm and semen. Sperm makes up a very small percentage (less than 5%). Because we are only stopping sperm being made, most men will not notice any change in the volume of their ejaculate after a vasectomy.

How long does the procedure take?

Most will take about 40 minutes.

What are the types of vasectomy?

There are a couple of ways to categorise the procedure methods:

1. Traditional vs No-Scalpel

The traditional method involves using a scalpel to make an incision on each side of the scrotum to access the vas.

The no-scalpel method uses blunt dissection and usually only involves one hole being made through which the vas from both sides is accessed. The no-scalpel technique results in lower complication rates such as bruising and bleeding.

2. Open-ended vs Closed-Ended

The open-ended technique means that the end of the vas attached to the testicle is left open. Why does this matter? Well after a vasectomy the testicle is going to continue to make sperm and this sperm needs to go somewhere. By allowing it to be released into the scrotum we reduce the incidence of “congestion” or the feeling of pressure from sperm backing up (think of a kinked hose with the tap running). 

The closed-ended technique means the testicular end of the vas is clamped with a suture or a clip.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Dr Hunter

Dr Russell Hunter specialises in performing No Scalpel vasectomies and is available at True’s Brisbane clinic once per month. Dr Hunter graduated from the University of Queensland in 1983. He held registrar positions in paediatrics and geriatrics while at the PA Hospital. He has a fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and a certificate in Family Planning.