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GLOSSARY

Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a medical procedure that males undergo to prevent pregnancy. A vasectomy achieves this by blocking the sperm from entering the semen. The procedure itself involves cutting and tying the male vasa deferentia, the ducts that bring sperm from the testes to the urethra, to prevent sperm from traveling out of the testicles and being ejaculated. A vasectomy is a permanent highly effective birth control option.

There are two types of vasectomies: the incision method (conventional vasectomy) and the no-scalpel vasectomy. With a conventional vasectomy, one or two small incisions are made along the scrotum to reach the vas deferens. The no-scalpel method, on the other hand, is a procedure in which a ringed clamp and dissecting hemostat is used to puncture the scrotum to access the vas deferens. Then , the vas deferens are removed.

Vasectomies are fairly simple outpatient procedures. The procedure itself takes about 20 minutes, and then there’s a recovery period of a few days before the patient can resume sexual activity. Vasectomy patients should do a semen analysis approximately 12 weeks after the surgery to ensure there are no sperm in the ejaculate.

Vasectomy and male fertility

As a vasectomy is a procedure done to prevent pregnancy. It is a popular option for couples or people who are no longer interested in conceiving.

A vasectomy can be reversed, should a male change his mind about his fertility. However, reversal is an expensive and invasive procedure, and sperm quality may still suffer after reversal. It’s recommended that anyone considering a vasectomy freeze sperm first, in case their family plans change.

Apart from preventing sperm from entering the semen, a vasectomy has no impact on sexual health. A person who has had a vasectomy can still have an erection, have sexual intercourse, and ejaculate exactly as they could before the procedure.

History of vasectomy

The first recorded vasectomy was performed on a dog in 1823. R. Harrison of London later performed the first-ever human vasectomy; however, it was not with the goal of sterilization in mind. Rather, the goal was to bring about atrophy in the prostate. Subsequently, in 1897, A.J. Ochsner wrote about vasectomies for the first time in the United States in a paper titled “Surgical Treatment of Habitual Criminals.”

In the early 1900s, Austrian physician Eugene Steinach claimed a vasectomy can restore sexual potency in older patients. This procedure quickly grew in popularity, with many wealthy patients turning to it. This was largely due to the placebo effect and it quickly fell out of favor. Finally, the vasectomy gained widespread popularity as permanent birth control during the Second World War.
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