With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, leaving the legality of abortions up to the individual states, a lot of people have been saying that people with penises should step up and get vasectomies to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. Vasectomies are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, and can sometimes be reversed, however, there is no guarantee that reversal will work. Let’s get the facts straight.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that prevents sperm from being in your semen, which prevents pregnancy. During a vasectomy, your doctor will cut or block the tubes in your scrotum that carry sperm, known as the vas deferens. This makes it so that no sperm makes its way to your semen, so when you ejaculate, the semen is free of sperm so pregnancy is not possible. There are two types of vasectomies: the incision method and the no-scalpel method. Both are quick and easy, and you usually will go home the same day. Vasectomies are nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What changes after a vasectomy?

Because the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm to your semen) are blocked off, sperm cells instead stay in the body, rather than leaving through ejaculate. You’ll still have the same amount of semen after the vasectomy as you did before, and your experience of orgasm, as well as the taste of your semen, will remain the same. It does take about three months for the semen to be free of sperm, so if you have unprotected sex before those three months are up, it is still possible to get pregnant, as the sperm is still getting cleared out of the body. Use a backup method of birth control like a condom during this three-month window.

Most vasectomies are reversible, but not all

Because this is a surgical procedure, there is zero possibility for user error, making it one of the most effective forms of birth control. Although there has been a lot of talk about how vasectomies are reversible, that is not always the case. The type of vasectomy you get determines if it would even be possible to surgically reverse, and if it is possible, it is expensive and there is no guarantee you would be fertile again. Whether or not it can be reversed also depends on how long ago you received the surgery, and on whether or not your body has developed antibodies to your sperm. It’s possible that your immune system would try and attack your sperm after the reversal because it has become unfamiliar with it. In short, if you are getting a vasectomy purely with the intention to reverse it, don’t. There are too many risk factors that do not guarantee your fertility will come back.

Vasectomies as birth control

Vasectomies are designed to be permanent, so it is best to only get them if you know you do not want to produce biological children, or if you are done having biological children. If you think you or your partner would be a good candidate for this procedure, talk to your doctor. It is very fast, safe and super effective at preventing pregnancy.

If you are just wanting temporary and reversible birth control, unfortunately, there aren’t many options for men other than condoms until a male contraceptive pill becomes a reality. Hormonal birth control, IUDs, vagina condoms, and the ring are all options for female birth control that is 100% reversible. Talk to your doctor if you’d like to learn more.

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