What is vasectomy and why is it done?

Vasectomy is the male irreversible contraceptive method whose effectiveness is almost 100%. Know its pros and cons, how it is performed, and the postoperative period of this surgery today can be completed without a scalpel.

Vasectomy is a permanent contraceptive method in men and with high effectiveness. It consists of sectioning the vas deferens to prevent the sperm from reaching the semen. Therefore they cannot be ejaculated and get the female egg—everything, without male sexuality being affected.

It is a simple surgical intervention, which does not last more than 30 minutes. It is performed under local anesthesia, and the man’s hospitalization is not necessary. Its main drawback: it is an irreversible method. Only on some occasions, through complicated microsurgery, is it possible to reverse it and ensure that the man’s semen contains sperm again and can fertilize a female egg to have children again.

But before explaining in more detail what this contraceptive method is like, it is worth knowing how sperm are produced.

This is how sperm are made.

The formation and maturation of sperm are called spermatogenesis, and several hormones are involved, such as testosterone or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Inside the testicles are the seminiferous tubules, helical structures whose function is precise to manufacture sperm. Its walls are covered with spermatogonia, germ cells that are precursors of sperm.

When these spermatogonia begin to enlarge in the seminiferous tube, the still immature sperm are transported to the epididymis, a long, narrow, coiled tube at the back of the testis. Here they take around two and a half or three months to mature, where they are stored before being ejaculated.

The process of ejaculation begins with an erection. The sperm reaches the ampulla, where secretions from the seminal vesicle are added. 

Next, that fluid is propelled through the ejaculatory ducts towards the urethra, passing through the prostate where a liquid is added that will form semen. Finally, the semen is ejaculated through the end of the urethra.

Cutting of the vas deferens

“Vasectomy consists of sectioning the vas deferens, which are the ones that carry the sperm from the testicles to the urethra,” explains Dr. Javier Romero, assistant in the Urology Service of the Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre (Madrid) and coordinator of the Group of Andrology of the Spanish Society of Urology. 

In this way, the sperm formed in the testicles cannot reach the seminal fluid or be expelled by the penis in ejaculation. Therefore, if there is no sperm, pregnancy is impossible. Subsequently, the man’s body reabsorbs these sperm.

This intervention, whose effectiveness is almost 100%, can be performed using two techniques: the traditional one or the so-called no-scalpel vasectomy.

Advantages and disadvantages of vasectomy

This operation that prevents the sperm from being expelled with the semen has its pros and cons that those who are thinking of undergoing it should know before going through the operating room:

Advantages of vasectomy

  • It is a completely safe and effective contraceptive method.
  • It is a very simple surgical intervention that does not require hospitalization, performed under local anesthesia, with hardly any side effects.
  • Does not affect libido or sexual intercourse.
  • Except for the first checks to confirm the absence of sperm, then no further medical check-ups are necessary.
  • It is a method whose cost is less than tubal ligation for the sterilization of women.

Disadvantages of vasectomy

  • Its effectiveness is not immediate: other contraceptive methods must be adopted for about three months after the intervention.
  • It is a permanent method. It is necessary to go through a complicated surgical intervention again to become fertile again.