Many vasectomy patients are young or single men concerned about unwanted pregnancy at a time when abortion care may not be as accessible as before this year.
About half a million men in the United States undergo a vasectomy in the first year of the year. Although the percentage of men receiving them has dropped for the previous two decades, it appears like those numbers are increasing in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.
More new patients are coming to see me as a urologist and microsurgeon specializing in vasectomies. Until the Dobbs v. Jackson decision came down, we've now fully booked at 30 vasectomies scheduled every month until next year. It's the first such increase in my 15-year career.
Other urologists are seeing a jump in numbers. One Kansas City doctor claimed to have seen a 900% jump in vasectomy inquiries in just the four days after his decision.
The majority of new vasectomy clients come from young or single men. They are concerned about getting a woman pregnant when abortion care isn't as available as it was previously. They also want to keep their sperm frozen in the future. Some patients have even successfully frozen their own sperm.
Vasectomies last roughly 15 to 20 minutes, and 98 percent of them are performed in an outpatient clinic.
Most vasectomies are simple and straightforward. In fact, 98% of them are performed in an outpatient clinic. For the duration of the 15-to-20-minute procedure, most men are wide awake in a medical office.
Only 2% of vasectomy patients get them in a hospital under anesthesia. That's usually due to anatomical issues or previous surgeries that hampered the procedure — or the patient's personal preference to sleep.
The urologist places a small opening in the scrotum. Then the doctor removes the vas deferens, the tube that pumps out sperm out of the testes and to the ejaculatory duct. The clips remain in place, closing and permanently sealing the cut tube ends.
Patients go home and recuperate for around four hours with some ice on their area. Most can return to work just a day or two later if their job doesn't involve manual labor. For about a week after the vasectomy, we recommend no sex and no heavy lifting.
Sports fans love to watch big sports events on television while they recover. For example, the Masters golf tournament, baseball's World Series, or the bowl games of American football, are among the reasons March is a popular month for appointments.
The patient returns to the clinic about two to three months after the procedure. We take a sample of semen to verify whether or not his vasectomy was successful. If any sperm are in the ejaculate, we may need to do a second one. This only happens in fewer than 1% of cases.
Because this is a surgical procedure, patients naturally have questions and concerns. A common one I'll hear from a patient is that getting a vasectomy will make him "less of a man," but that is totally false. It will not make you less of a man.
Because the procedure is so close to the procedure, some men fear that they will damage their penis. However, a vasectomy will not harm a man's penis or any other surrounding structures. He will not experience any changes in sexual function or enjoyment after the procedure.
After a vasectomy, ejaculate volume decreases slightly, although everything else remains the same. This isn't a major decrease, since sperm is only 5% of semen volume.
However, patients may elect to have their vasectomies reversed if they do change their mind. About 5% of U.S. patients do so.
Most often this involves a man with a new partner who wants to have biological children. Nearly all vasectomy reversals succeed, with sperm returning to the ejaculate around 90% to 95% of the time. Pregnancies follow vasectomy reversals around 50% to 60% of the time.
Ranjith Ramasamy, University of Miami Associate Professor of Urology, wrote this letter.
The Conversation published this article for the first time.