When a guy is ready to call it quits with having kids or prefers to dodge fatherhood altogether, a vasectomy is the best choice for sterility.
Considered a safe and permanent form of birth control, a vasectomy is a common procedure that approximately 500,000 men in the U.S. undergo each year.
But before you get snipped, make sure you don’t want to have kids (or any more kids). This isn’t snap decision you make after babysitting your badass nephew or calculating how much tuition will cost in 2035.
If you decide to undergo the procedure, there are a couple of backup plans just in case circumstances change or your no-kids stance softens years later.
You can get a vasectomy reversal—though it’s not quite as simple to get un-snipped—or you can use a sperm bank to freeze and store your sperm.
You’re a man of conviction. Once you make up your mind, it’s set in stone. But, you’re also a man who makes contingency plans. You have cash stashed for emergencies. You have insurance on every gadget you own. And, in life, you always have a Plan B.
When it comes to a vasectomy, you should consider a backup plan as well. Why? Because anything can happen:
A sperm bank gives you a simple backup plan, where your sperm can be used for insemination later, if necessary. Of course, a vasectomy can be reversed, and about 6 percent of men choose this option.
Reversals have a 90 to 95 percent success rate for sperm production, but you just have a 20 to 70 percent chance of getting your partner pregnant after the procedure. That percentage drops 10 years after a vasectomy. Also, a reversal has more risks associated with it, such as infection at the site of surgery, fluid buildup in the scrotum, and injury to arteries or nerves in the scrotum.
The process of freezing sperm is called cryopreservation and storage is called cryobank. Sperm is stored at low temperatures (typically -196 degrees) and can be frozen indefinitely, though it may lose some efficacy after 12 years depending on how it reacts to freezing.
The process starts with a semen analysis, which will determine your sperm quantity and quality to see if you should freeze it. If you’re not comfortable providing a sample at a lab, you can do it at home and send in the sample. Before going through the analysis, you can determine your sperm count with SpermCheck, an at-home male fertility test.
One ejaculation usually yields 1-6 vials of sperm for cryopreservation. On average, men bank three ejaculations to improve chances of pregnancy later. After sperm is analyzed, it’s divided into smaller batches and put in vials for freezing.
Freezing an ejaculation costs $500-$700, and storage runs $300-$1,000 a year.
When you decide to use your sperm, notify the sperm bank in writing and they’ll release it to your physician. If you decide you don’t need the sperm any longer, you can have it destroyed or donate it to a sperm bank.
A vasectomy is a great form of long-term birth control. But before you have the procedure, consider if a sperm bank is for you. If you think there’s a chance you’ll change your mind about sterility, freezing your sperm is a viable option with fewer risks than a vasectomy reversal.