Just over half a million men get a vasectomy each year in the United States. You may have heard that getting snipped is a simpler procedure than a woman getting her tubes tied. While it may be true that the permanent sterilization procedure itself is much less invasive for men, it’s important to note that it’s not immediately effective. The official effectiveness in the first year is over 99%; however, there is an important waiting period required after surgery in order to get there. Let’s talk about how to confirm your vasectomy’s effectiveness.
When a man ejaculates, his semen contains sperm. Sperm is what meets with an egg to cause fertilization and pregnancy. If you remove sperm from the equation, then you technically can’t get a woman pregnant. That’s what a vasectomy aims to do.
Vasectomies cut off the access for sperm to get into the semen. The vas deferens tubes connect the testes, where sperm is stored, to the other male sexual organs like the prostate, seminal vesicles, and the urethra. A vasectomy is an out-patient procedure that cuts both vas deferens tubes so that sperm cannot get into the semen.
So, what happens to your sperm if it can’t get out? It gets reabsorbed by your body, just as it would if you didn’t naturally expel it over a long period of time. But it doesn’t cut off the access immediately. It takes a few weeks to a few months for all sperm to be removed from a man’s reproductive organs after having the procedure completed. That’s because there is still sperm that is stored in the semen that’s already been produced in the body before the procedure.
Here are some important post-vasectomy care tips to increase the effectiveness of your vasectomy.
The goal of a vasectomy is to reach azoospermia. This is the condition of having no sperm in the semen. The timeframe of achieving azoospermia ranges for each patient, but usually by three months or about 30 ejaculations, your semen should be sperm-free. The American Urological Association recommends waiting between eight to sixteen weeks before ordering your first post-vasectomy semen analysis. A vasectomy is considered successful if no live sperm are present six months after the procedure.
A lab test called a post-vasectomy semen analysis is the only way to verify azoospermia. Although this is a crucial step in verifying that your vasectomy was successful, not all men return to complete the recommended post-vasectomy semen analysis.
That’s pretty understandable, considering the awkwardness required to get the sample if you’re going to a traditional lab or doctor’s office. However, now these tests can be done at home. At-home semen analysis kits are available online. My Virtual Physician has partnered with Orchid to provide our patients easy access to at-home semen analysis testing like this one.
Post-vasectomy semen analysis kits are more affordable than a complete semen analysis since they are only looking for the presence or absence of sperm in your semen sample rather than a full analysis of sperm. These kits allow you to collect your sample from the privacy of your own home and mail it into a lab for results in less than 24 hours.
You’ll want two consecutive results showing azoospermia before you can consider your vasectomy fully in effect. Even if you had your vasectomy done years ago, you might want to re-check your sperm counts periodically since there is still a 1 in 2,000 chance of pregnancy with men who achieved azoospermia after one post-vasectomy semen analysis. That’s because sometimes the body puts itself back together, a phenomenon called recanalization.
Vasectomies are one of the most effective methods of birth control. However, it’s important to remember that this procedure is not 100% effective and requires time after the procedure to work. The only way to verify your vasectomy was successful is by a post-vasectomy semen analysis. Get yours ordered today by clicking below to speak with our doctors.