Family health

Getting a vasectomy: Your top FAQs answered

What does it feel like? Boxers or briefs? Are needles involved? We've got answers for all the worried fellas ready to make this ballsy move.

Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

1. Does having a vasectomy raise my cancer risk? No. Old reports linking vasectomies to higher risks of prostate and testicular cancer aren’t hard to find online, but recent studies show there’s no connection whatsoever. Says Keith Jarvi, head of urology at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital and professor of surgery at the University of Toronto: “The evidence [debunking] is so strong now, we don’t even discuss it.”

2. If it’s not painful, what does it feel like, exactly? Once the area is numb, you’ll experience some tugging and shifting, which feels more weird than uncomfortable.

3. Do I have to get a needle? Maybe not. Many doctors now use a less painful high-pressure spray (via jet gun) that does away with needles entirely.

4. What if I change my mind later on and want to reverse my vasectomy? The vasectomy is an easy half-hour snip. Reconnecting those tubes isn’t such a breeze. Vasectomy reversal is an invasive, two- to three-hour procedure that may require general anesthetic. And since it’s not covered under provincial health plans, the cost can run around $5,000. The success rate is good (studies suggest 50 to 70 percent of men are able to have kids post-reversal), but doctors note that effectiveness drops depending on how long it’s been since the vasectomy. Because of this, couples are often encouraged to look into alternatives—sperm retrieval and in-vitro fertilization—if they want a baby. If you’re spooked by the prospect of a future reversal or sperm retrieval, you can freeze sperm before your vasectomy.

5. Should I shave? Depends on instructions from your doctor.

6. Can I walk out of the procedure? Many doctors believe it’s fine to drive yourself home. Park close by, though—you may be too tender to walk far.

7. Boxers or briefs? Briefs offer better support for your boys.


8. How long is the recovery? If you have a desk job, you can go back the next day, but those with physically demanding work should wait two to three days before returning. No matter your job, it’s best lie low for at least a week—doing too much too soon can transform your boys into what one medical expert calls “giant oranges.”

9. Best frozen food selection? No-name peas will do, but Green Giant’s Garden Vegetable Medley adds a touch of class.

A version of this article appeared in our November 2016 issue, titled “Making the cut,” pg. 27-33.

Read more: Getting a vasectomy: Actually not that big a deal 5 methods of birth control moms love I swore off sex after I had kids

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