There comes a time in every father’s life when he’s had enough children. Well, unless you’re Mick Jagger, who apparently isn’t ready to call it quits yet.
But for the non-rock star guy, he probably has a limit.
So if you and your wife have reached that threshold, what’s the best option for long-term birth control?
Well, we’re pretty sure your wife doesn’t want to be on the pill forever, and keeping a lifetime supply of condoms on your nightstand doesn’t seem practical either. So you probably need a more permanent solution.
For guys, a vasectomy is the only permanent form of birth control. So, if you’ve decided, or if your wife has convinced (i.e. forced) you to get snipped, there are a few things to consider before undergoing the procedure.
The first thing to consider is if you’re really, really sure you’re done with having kids. Discuss it with your wife, and consider the likelihood of wanting kids in the future (if you’re young, change your mind, or possibly get remarried).
If you’re not 100 percent sure, you can always use a sperm bank to freeze your sperm for future use. Or, you can have the vasectomy reversed, but that’s a more complicated and expensive procedure.
For guys, there are no other options, except to shift the responsibility for family planning to your wife.
Tubal ligation is the most common form of sterilization and is performed three times more often than vasectomies. However, it has more risks, a longer recovery period, and is more expensive than a vasectomy—costing up to $7,000 while vasectomies are less than $1,000.
Plus, your wife’s body has already experienced this painful thing called childbirth—probably multiple times—so it wouldn’t hurt for you to take one for the team.
A vasectomy is a simple procedure, but there are some common side effects, such as soreness, swelling, and slight bruising, but they usually don’t last long.
Serious complications occur in 1-2 percent of men and include lasting pain, bleeding, fever, or infection.
The procedure doesn’t impact your sex drive. Your testosterone levels remain the same. It doesn’t cause erectile dysfunction, and you’ll ejaculate about the same amount (minus the sperm).
A vasectomy takes just 10-20 minutes—you’ll probably spend more time it the waiting room than the operating room. The doctor will numb your scrotum with a local anesthetic, so you’ll be awake the whole time.
Most guys opt for a no-scalpel vasectomy in which the doctor makes a small puncture in the scrotum to reach the vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm) instead of making an incision. The vas deferens are then severed, which prevents sperm from mixing with semen for ejaculation.
Recovery is just a few days of sitting around the house and icing your groin (not a bad gig). But you’re not home free yet. Sperm can live in the vas deferens for months after the procedure, so even though you can resume sexual activity, you need to use birth control for a few months.
It takes about 20 ejaculations to clear out the sperm. So how will you know if you’re all clear? Well, you need to check your semen. You can spare yourself another trip to the doctor by checking your sterility status at home with SpermCheck, an over-the-counter test kit.
If the test says you’re sterile, you can ditch the pills and condoms.
Vasectomies are quite common, as half a million men in the U.S. have one each year. It’s considered the most reliable form of birth control. But before you have one, make sure you’re prepared for everything involved with the decision.