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Is a Vasectomy Worth it? Five things you Need to Consider

If you are a Brisbane man reading this blog, you may well be asking yourself is a vasectomy worth it?  Getting any medical procedure, like getting your wisdom teeth out or a mole removed, always requires balancing the risks and benefits of going ahead versus not going ahead.  Choosing not to do something is still a choice. 

Luckily we live in an advanced healthcare system with a range of medical specialists. Just like any other medical procedure, you should consider where you and your family are at the moment.  As I have heard from many Brisbane men over the years, getting a vasectomy is a big decision but it may well be the best decision you ever make.  Here are five things you should consider when deciding if a vasectomy is worth it for your family, for your partner, and for yourself.

1. Do you or might you want more children?

A vasectomy isn’t for everyone.  If there is any possibility that you would like to have another child in the next few years, you should not proceed with a vasectomy.  While vasectomies can be reversed, there is no guarantee that a vasectomy reversal will be successful.  

A vasectomy is a permanent solution. Unlike condoms, a mirena or the contraceptive pill, a vasectomy will be a once-off thing that lasts forever. This makes a vasectomy perfect for couples who have completed their family and don’t want any more children.  A vasectomy is also a good decision for men (or couples) who do not want to have any children.  For people in this situation who ask me if a vasectomy is worth it, I almost always say yes but encourage them to think through every scenario.

2. How would an unplanned pregnancy affect you and your family?

A vasectomy has a very very very low failure rate. Being on the contraceptive pill, or using condoms do offer some protection against unplanned pregnancies but they are not as reliable as a vasectomy.  Considering how an unplanned pregnancy would affect your life, your relationship, and your partner’s life is worth pondering for a moment.  For some they would see any future pregnancy as a great thing and would feel blessed to have six, eight, 10 or even 12 children. Others would find the unplanned arrival of an additional child, let alone subsequent unplanned arrivals, very stressful, both emotionally and financially. Some men wouldn’t want their partners to take on the risks that pregnancy and labour poses to their health.  Every individual also has their own opinions on abortion and that may be something to discuss with your partner. These may seem like rare events but I would estimate that every week someone comes in for a vasectomy after their partner has had an abortion for an unplanned pregnancy.  I also would estimate that every fortnight someone comes in for a vasectomy with two children about to finish high school and an unplanned baby.  Almost always these are men who had always planned to get a vasectomy but just kept putting it off.  When answering is a vasectomy worth it for yourself, you may want to consider how you would feel if you were in this situation. 

3. The cost of getting a vasectomy

One factor a lot of Brisbane men often raise with me is the cost of getting a vasectomy. Compared to other contraceptive methods, a vasectomy is actually the most cost-effective way to avoid unplanned pregnancy. This is because a vasectomy is a one time cost. You don’t have to repeatedly get a script from your GP, and get the script filled at a pharmacy. You don’t have to continuously buy packets of condoms either.  Is a vasectomy worth it?  Financially it is a no brainer.

4. Are you and your partner psychologically ready?

The psychological aspects of getting a vasectomy can sometimes be dismissed.  If a relationship is unstable and will likely end in a divorce, you probably should think twice about a vasectomy.  You may want to rely on other contraception until you know where the relationship is heading.  

Men who have been sexually abused as children are at an increased risk of prolonged pain following a vasectomy.  This is a type of somatization. That is, a person’s psychological symptoms being felt by them physically.  For men who have been abused as children they may want to consider their own psychological state when considering if a vasectomy is worth it.

A vasectomy may also have a psychological effect on your partner. Often, when couples are asked about their sex lives in the months and years following a vasectomy, men report absolutely no change. The same cannot be said for their partners. Women often report a small but statistically significant improvement in their sex lives. This can only be explained psychologically.  It is thought that women feel more relaxed with the security that they are not about to become pregnant. They may also feel closer to their partners who have stepped up and gotten a vasectomy.

5. Consider the medical risks

No medical procedure is without risks. The risks of a vasectomy include bleeding, infection, the tubes rejoining, or an ongoing ache. These risks are very rare. You can decrease the risks of any complications by resting, not smoking, and taking a semen test at three months. The men who run into trouble often do so because they do too much a day or two too soon. Another very rare complication is that of an ongoing ache following a vasectomy.  These men usually benefit from a reversal but can have other issues such as undiagnosed back conditions or depression present.  About one in 10000 men develop an ache that goes on over the years. You should note, however, that this is comparable to the risk of being struck by lightning.

When answering the question, is a vasectomy worth it, you need to consider all the variables: 

  1. your present situation
  2. whether you both consider your family complete and how you would feel about an unexpected child
  3. where you are in your relationship 
  4. where you are financially,  and 
  5. how much risk you are willing to take on using alternative contraception.    

Ultimately each man needs to make the decision based on what is right for his family, for his partner, and for himself.

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