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When couples decide on permanent birth control, many opt for female sterilization (a.k.a tubal ligation) over a vasectomy for the man. In fact, tubal ligation is performed three times more often.
However, female sterilization—or getting her tubes tied—carries more risks to your partner, requires a longer recovery period, and is more expensive than a vasectomy.
So should you consider getting snipped? First, you should know that getting a vasectomy doesn’t make you less of a man—in fact, it could lead to more sex, new research from Standford University suggests.
Vasectomized men get laid an average of 5.9 times per month, compared to 4.9 times for intact guys, according to the survey of nearly 6,000 men. Couples may be quicker to jump in bed when they don’t have to worry about contraception, says study author David Guo, M.D.
That’s a big plus. But if you’re still nervous about sharp objects around your testicles, here are all the facts you need to know about the procedure.
Plenty of men have signed up for vasectomies.
Although vasectomy is far less common than female sterilization, it’s hardly a rare choice: One in five guys over age 35 has had a vasectomy. (Here’s what the future of birth control might look like.)
A vasectomy is relatively no muss, no fuss.
A typical vasectomy usually takes 10 to 15 minutes and is done with just a local anesthetic, says Joseph Alukal, MD, director of male reproductive health at NYU. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small cut or puncture into the scrotum, pulls out the vas deferens—the tube that carries semen from the testicle—cuts it, then seals it shut before closing up the incision area.
(Here are 10 Other Things That Hurt Worse than a Vasectomy.)
You may have some soreness and swelling down there, but it’s usually resolved by applying an ice pack or even frozen peas to the scrotum and taking OTC pain meds. You’ll be back to work within 24 hours and can resume regular physical activity within a week.
Tubal ligation, on the other hand, often requires general anesthesia (so she’s completely out), is much more invasive, has a longer recovery time, and carries more significant risks like the chance of damage to her bowel or bladder.
Vasectomies work really well—but you have to follow your doctor’s orders.
Vasectomies are successful in over 99% of men, but you’ll need to use a backup method of birth control for about 3 months after the procedure or risk pregnancy.
“A man needs to have ejaculated at least 20 times after the vasectomy to make sure there are no sperm left in the ducts,” explains Alukal. Most doctors have patients come back 8 to 12 weeks after the procedure to check sperm count.
“When we do see pregnancies, it’s usually because a man had unprotected sex during the first month after the procedure,” says Alukal.
A vasectomy can be reversed.
About 10% of men opt to reverse their vasectomies, a procedure that has an 80 to 90% success rate, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.
“The most common reason men decide to have it done is remarriage, the loss of a child, or, in very rare cases, because they have residual testicular pain,” says Na Bar-Chama, MD, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC.
Reversal involves sewing the severed ends of the vas deferens back together and has the same recovery time as a vasectomy. If the procedure’s not successful—or you don’t want to go back under the knife—in-vitro fertilization is still an option, since a doctor can simply retrieve sperm from the testicles.
A vasectomy won’t affect your virility.
Contrary to many men’s fears, getting snipped doesn’t affect testosterone levels at all.
“There’s no change to sexual desire or semen output; they just aren’t releasing sperm,” explains Philip Werthman, MD, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles.
Another worry to cross off your list: prostate cancer. Groups like the American Urological Association have reviewed all the evidence and concluded that men who have had vasectomies aren’t at increased risk of the disease.
Medical Aid Might Cover The Procedure.
“Insurance companies love it when you’re not creating more dependents,” says Alukal. The only catch: a change of heart afterward. Vasectomy reversals are expensive and are virtually never covered by insurance. Given the cost—and the fact that reversal isn’t guaranteed—it’s smart to make sure you and your partner are confident about the decision before you go under the knife.
The article 6 Things Every Woman Needs To Know About Vasectomies originally ran on Prevention.com