Vasectomy can change your life. Mostly for the better, but sometimes for the worse. The pre-vasectomy consultation is often only a few minutes long, at the end of which you may be asked to sign a consent form. In most instances, this one consultation is the only opportunity you get to have your questions answered by your doctor. Hopefully, this article will help you to get the most out of the short time you have.
To illustrate what we guys really know about vasectomy, Marie Stopes International carried out a survey of men in the UK.1National survey reveals that Midlands men are the most unwilling have a vasectomy. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/microsite/mariestopes/uk/story/0,,1064065,00.html The lack of knowledge is astounding!
- Only 26% of men could correctly identify the right description of a vasectomy procedure.
- Only 36% of men knew that you still ejaculate after vasectomy.
- Only 43% of men knew that vasectomy did not raise the voice pitch.
- 30% of men thought it was easily reversible if you wanted further children.
- Only 48% of men knew that vasectomy offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.
Maybe this is the typical level of knowledge of men that go for a vasectomy consultation.
So what can you do to make your consultation count?
Take time to research and consider all aspects of vasectomy in order to make sure it’s right for you, and it’s a decision you are happy with. You may find that after careful consideration that vasectomy isn’t the right decision for you at the moment, or just isn’t right for you.
Do some research in order to ask the doctor relevant questions, and most importantly, understand the answers. Remember, you only have a few minutes of your doctor’s time, use it wisely to ask questions important to you.
What kind of pre-vasectomy research should I do?
To make the best use of the time you have at the consultation, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how a vasectomy is performed. This will save time, as the doctor will have less need to explain basic anatomy allowing you and him to discuss questions you have that are specific to you.Suggested reading
By doing your research on the procedure, you will soon find that you have a whole host of questions that you need answers to. If you are unfamiliar with any of the medical terms you encounter, then please look them up. There are many websites that explain medical terms effectively.
One source of information is colleagues or family members who have had a vasectomy. Their stories may tend to grow in the telling, but anyone who has had a vasectomy will usually be willing to answer questions from their experience honestly. Obviously the internet is an excellent source of information, but there are also some good books and articles written from various viewpoints available.Suggested reading
Ask about the doctor’s experience
At the consultation, take the opportunity to check on the doctor’s experience. You may not know that a doctor is able to perform vasectomy with minimal training. Because it’s regarded as a simple procedure, they only need to be present for a handful of procedures and perform a few surgeries under supervision to be deemed competent. That means that the guy who may be wielding a scalpel at your testicles may have done less than ten vasectomies before. Doctors do have to train and practice on someone, but does it need to be you? The risk of complications is reduced with an experienced and skilled surgeon.
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask your doctor about his experience. Ask how long he’s been performing vasectomies, how many he regularly performs, what complications he’s experienced, and how he’s treated them. If he’s not able to satisfy you that he’s suitably experienced, then consider if he’s the doctor you want to perform this procedure. Even under HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans, you can often choose from a very small list of practitioners. Shop around until you find a doctor you feel comfortable with performing the procedure.
Another important point is to make sure the doctor will be performing the entire procedure. We have heard of doctors allowing nurses or trainee medical staff to do part of the procedure – not always with good results. If this happens, the doctor should discuss this with you before the surgery and gain your consent. Medical people do have to practice on somebody, but your permission should be sought prior to the procedure if they want to use you as a training exercise. You can always say no – after all, it’s your body.
Discuss your medical history
The consultation is a good time to share any information you have about your equipment. You should tell your doctor about any pain you have experienced in your scrotum or penis, or any odd lumps or bumps you have discovered at any point – whether they are still present or not, and about any prostate problems you have experienced.
Post vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) can be caused by undiagnosed problems that existed before the vasectomy. One of the clinical papers quoted in the Medical Journal extracts section makes the point that upon pathological examination of excised material after surgery, the post-vasectomy pain some patients were suffering was possibly due to non-vasectomy related conditions such as hydroceles and long-standing fibroids.
Therefore it is important to ask your doctor if there is a chance that a vasectomy may worsen any pains you already have. It is a good idea to tell the doctor about any family history of prostate or testicular cancer. Discuss whether anything about your equipment or your medical history (including that of your male relatives), suggests you should not have a vasectomy. You should also ask if there is any reason to prefer one procedure over another, or whether you are especially susceptible to any complications resulting from vasectomy.
Do I need my wife’s permission to get a vasectomy?
One point that often surprises many men – a lot of doctors require the co-signature of your wife for the procedure. This is relatively common in the USA and the UK (and probably other countries too). The reason for requesting for your wife’s presence is often a local policy based on statistical research. Studies that have looked at reasons for regretting vasectomy have repeatedly found that the men least likely to regret vasectomy are where the couple has had joint counseling and is not a rushed decision. For example, in one study, couples that took an average of 22 months to decide reported 99.7% satisfaction with vasectomy.2Orr D, Moore B. Vasectomy as a contraceptive method. Ir Med J. 1989;82(1):19-20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2753666
Many doctors like to involve partners in the consultation and decision, so everyone involved is aware of the risks and benefits, and that it should be viewed as permanent. Some doctors might require your wife’s co-signature before the consultation, so prepare your arguments beforehand if you are unhappy about this.
It has been reported, that some doctors may require a wait of 30 days between signing the consent form and having the procedure actually done.
Pre-operative physical examination
Also known as the “tube check”. Anatomically, all men are the same, but there can be important differences. During the consultation, the doctor examines your scrotum to determine whether the location and general condition of your vas deferens will pose any problems during the vasectomy and that you are suitable to have the procedure done under local anesthetic.
Tell your doctor about your work, and any sports you play. This will help the doctor advise you on recovery treatment after the operation. For example, if you are a sportsman or have a job that requires lifting, it may be that an extended rest after the operation will be required. Telling your doctor about your activities may even suggest the advisability of one procedure over another, and alert him or her to possible complications.Suggested reading
After the consult
Whilst keeping your options open, carefully consider and discuss all of the information given, and be honest with yourself about your thoughts and feelings.
It’s ultimately your decision. Vasectomy is an elective procedure and you must be certain it’s what you want to do. Again, it’s not a method of birth control but permanent sterilization. Whether you decide to have a vasectomy or decide that it’s not right for you we hope that this article has been useful to you in making an informed decision.
References and further readingVasectomy-Information.com has a strict sourcing policy. We rely on evidence-based medicine, peer-reviewed studies, reputable clinical journals, and medical associations. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy.
- National survey reveals that Midlands men are the most unwilling have a vasectomy. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/microsite/mariestopes/uk/story/0,,1064065,00.html
- Orr D, Moore B. Vasectomy as a contraceptive method. Ir Med J. 1989;82(1):19-20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2753666