Taking the Fear out of Vasectomies

When Rosalie and Joseph’s daughter turned 1 year old, they started discussing whether they wanted to have more children and considering options for long-term birth control. Two years later, when the couple was certain they did not want to add to their family, they decided the best option for permanent birth control would be for Joseph to have a vasectomy.

“Having children is a huge commitment,” Rosalie says, “and it’s something that we’re so happy to be doing right now and feel like we’re really ready to pour all our love and time into the daughter that we have right now, and we don’t want to have an accidental pregnancy."

“You know, I’m of the age where a number of my friends are having them, actually,” says Joseph, who is 40. “From what I’ve understood, it helped them and their wives relax a lot in terms of their physical relationship.

“In general women are really left to be responsible for birth control, and I really think it’s men’s role as well to be as responsible as we can, so I’m really happy to take the commitment for us.”

Joseph volunteers to have the procedure performed by urologist Dr. Aaron Spitz in real time on The Doctors to help demonstrate that a vasectomy can be minimally invasive and is not something that men should be scared to do.

During a vasectomy, the vas deferens, the duct that carries sperm to the urethra, is cut and sealed to prevent sperm from entering the seminal stream, which prevents the possibility of fertilization.

Dr. Spitz says he’s performing the “Cadillac” of vasectomies, which does not require the use of a needle or scalpel. “I like to call it the no-problem vasectomy,” he says.

Before beginning the procedure, Dr. Spitz sets the record straight about several misconceptions associated with vasectomies. He explains the vas deferens “is completely separate plumbing from everything else.”

“It doesn’t affect erections. It doesn’t affect urinating, and it doesn’t actually affect ejaculating,” Dr. Spitz says. “All that’s happening is the sperm cells are no longer in the semen, but everything else is the same – the sensation, the virility and the health. There is no other health risk associated, not a prostate cancer risk."

“The only risk is that you might feel a little more sexy and have less stressful sex,” Dr. Spitz adds.

Watch as Dr. Spitz performs the procedure:

Dr. Spitz explains how he uses a specialized clamp to bring the vas deferens close to the skin so he can access it through a small puncture. He uses an electrical thermal cautery to cut through the tissue cleanly and sear the blood vessels, so there's minimal bleeding and no need for sutures.

Dr. Spitz says Joseph can resume having sex within about a week but will need to continue to use another form of birth control for about three months, until a semen analysis determines he is sterile.

OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton explains that the procedure usually is done in an office with local anesthesia, rather than general anesthesia, which is needed when a woman has a hysterectomy.

She says she often talks with her patients about permanent birth control options.

“I will recommend a vasectomy 100 percent of the time over taking a woman to the operating room for general anesthesia,” she says.

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says performing a vasectomy in real time on the show highlights that it can be a very effective procedure with minimal complications.

“We’re trying to take the fear out of this,” he says.

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