Vasectomy is a method to provide permanent contraception to men who do not want to father more children. It is also called the “snip.” Contrary to many myths, a vasectomy does not prevent a man from having a healthy sex life – the only difference is that his semen will not contain sperm.
What is a Vasectomy?
Vasectomy surgery is an outpatient procedure that surgeons perform under local anaesthesia. The patient is aware of the surgery but does not feel any pain. A small cut is made on the scrotum to access the tubes that carry sperms. Following this, surgeons cut or seal these tubes to ensure they can no longer carry sperms to the penis. The whole procedure takes around 15 minutes.
There are two types of vasectomy procedures based on the size of the incision.
- Traditional vasectomy technique: Surgeons make one to two cuts in the scrotum using a scalpel. After the procedure, they use dissolvable stitches to close the incisions.
- No-scalpel vasectomy: Surgeons make a small puncture on the scrotum to access the tubes. They do not need a scalpel. There is minimal bleeding, and the incision does not require stitches. It is also less painful and causes fewer complications than the traditional procedure.
Vasectomy is a permanent method of sterilisation. Though reversing the procedure is possible, it is not easy and may not be effective. Talk to your partner and ensure you the both of you do not want to have more children before proceeding.
What are the Side Effects of Vasectomy?
After a vasectomy, you may experience bruising on the scrotum, blood in your semen, swelling, and mild pain in the scrotum. A rare complication is getting an infection at the site of surgery. Infections and side effects are significantly less with the no-scalpel methods than the traditional method.
Vasectomy is a safe procedure, and delayed complications are very rare. Around 1%-2% of men may experience long-term pain. However, it does not hamper sexual performance in any way. On the contrary, you might enjoy sex more after this procedure with no concerns of conception. There is also no risk of cancer or heart disease.
While vasectomy prevents a man from fathering a child, and you will not need to use a condom, it does not help avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Also, though vasectomy is an almost guaranteed method of preventing conception, it takes a few weeks to be effective. So, you will need to use condoms for 6-8 weeks or until your doctor says so.
How Can You Support Recovery?
Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure, and you can go home the same day. Soon after the surgery, you may feel numbness on the scrotum. Some men feel a slight tugging sensation on the scrotum and may have minor swelling and bruising for a few days after the vasectomy.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, vasectomy causes a direct obstruction to the semen flow. “Vasectomy is invasive, though minimally, and it impairs the qi (vital life energy), blood and fluid circulation, which will eventually result in qi and fluid stagnation as well as blood stasis,” says Brandon Yew, a Senior TCM physician at Real Health Medical Clinic in Singapore.
The following tips can help ease the discomfort post-vasectomy and hasten recovery.
Painkillers like paracetamol can help to relieve the initial pain and swelling that occurs following a vasectomy.
Good hygiene is vital to prevent infections at the site of vasectomy. It is usually safe to have a bath after the procedure. Change the dressing if it gets soiled and keep the incision site clean and dry.
A specific diet can determine the time window of recovery post-vasectomy. Physician Yew advises against consuming seafood, particularly crustaceans, molluscs, or shellfishes, as they contain high amounts of toxins that can complicate wound healing.
“The damp-heat pathogen from TCM point of view is notorious for causing various skin conditions. It’s best to avoid alcohol, smoking, deep-fried oily and spicy foods, sugary foods, fruits like durian, lychee, longan, jackfruit, and rambutan until the wound heals completely.”
Herbal remedies containing Astragalus root and Dragon’s blood — a natural plant resin that’s extracted from various tropical trees and known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties — can hasten the healing of open wounds. You can also try American ginseng, which has mild therapeutic action and is an everyday supplement for enhancing and restoring overall bodily function.
Apart from herbal remedies, physical treatments like acupuncture and tuina are worth trying. “Prescriptions from a TCM physician in the form of TCM herbal medication, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, and tuina address the unique body constitution of every individual patient. Hence, it’s best to always first consult the TCM physician for proper assessment.”
Vasectomy is a safe procedure that has been tried and tested for many years for men who do not want to father more children. So, don’t worry about the aftercare – go ahead and get that snip! You can easily manage the initial discomfort with the remedies above.