Birth Control: Surgical Sterilization

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Introduction to birth control

If a woman is sexually active and she is fertile and physically able to become pregnant, she needs to ask herself, "Do I want to become pregnant now?" If her answer is "No," she must use some method of birth control (contraception).

Terminology used to describe birth control methods include contraception, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, and family planning. But no matter what the terminology, sexually active people can choose from an abundance of methods to reduce the possibility of their becoming pregnant. Nevertheless, no method of birth control available today offers perfect protection against sexually transmitted infections (sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs), except abstinence.

In simple terms, all methods of birth control are based on either preventing a man's sperm from reaching and entering a woman's egg (fertilization) or preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the woman's uterus (her womb) and starting to grow. New methods of birth control are being developed and tested all the time. And what is appropriate for a couple at one point may change with time and circumstances.

Unfortunately, no birth control method, except abstinence, is considered to be 100% effective.

Permanent methods of contraception (surgical sterilization)

Sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. In certain cases, sterilization can be reversed, but the success of this procedure is not guaranteed. For this reason, sterilization is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future.

Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a form of sterilization of a man. A vasectomy ensures that no sperm will exit from his penis when he ejaculates during sexual intercourse.

A vasectomy is usually performed by either a urologist or a general surgeon. Under local anesthesia, the vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the urethra, also known as spermatic ducts) from each testicle is severed. The open ends are then closed off. A vasectomy can be performed in the clinic and involves making two small openings in the scrotum. After a vasectomy, the man may feel tenderness or bruising around the incision site.

A vasectomy does not interfere with the ability of a man to have an erection or the quantity of his ejaculation fluid. After a man has a vasectomy, another second form of birth control should be used until his ejaculate fluid is found to be free from sperm. This usually takes 10 to 20 ejaculations.

Vasectomy reversals are possible, but they tend to be expensive and are not guaranteed to be effective. A vasectomy should be considered a permanent form of birth control.

A vasectomy does not protect a man or his partner from sexually transmitted infections.