No-Scalpel Vasectomy: Procedure, Risks and Side Effects

Chart showing the steps involved in a no-scalpel vasectomy procedure.

What Is A No-Scalpel Vasectomy?

A no-scalpel vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed to make a man sterile, but resulting in less bleeding and a faster recovery rate compared to traditional vasectomy. The operation will result in sperm no longer being able to combine with the semen (the fluid that is ejaculated during sex).

A traditional vasectomy involves making two small incisions in your scrotum with a scalpel. However, a no-scalpel vasectomy is performed by making only a small hole in the scrotum. This procedure is quicker and more convenient than traditional vasectomy. It’s also just as effective.

Vasectomies do not affect sexual function, and engaging in intercourse or masturbation will feel the same as before. The only difference is that you won’t release sperm when ejaculating.

Although still produced in the testicles, the sperm will eventually die and be absorbed into the body, much in the same way that any other cells die and are replaced.

A no-scalpel vasectomy is a safe and effective method of long-term birth control. When performed by experienced surgeons, the failure rate is only around 0.1%.

The operation is meant to be permanent and a vasectomy reversal can’t be guaranteed. You and your partner should carefully consider all of the potential consequences before agreeing to undergo the procedure.

See Also: Vasectomy Procedure, Side Effects, Effectiveness & Recovery

How Does A Vasectomy Work?

A vasectomy is a simple but effective birth control procedure that prevents sperm from mixing with semen during ejaculation. It is one of the most common surgical procedures in the US, and is performed about 500,000 time per year.

Sperm cells are produced in the testicles, where they combine with seminal fluid formed in the prostate and seminal vesicles. The combination of seminal fluid and sperm is transported through a tube called the vas deferens to the urethra (the tube running through the penis where urine and semen pass out of the body).

The vasectomy procedure involves a doctor cutting the vas deferens and sealing off the ends. Ejaculation will still occur, but the semen won’t contain any sperm. As a result, there is no risk of your partner becoming pregnant.

See Also: Can a Vasectomy Be Reversed?

What Is The Difference Between A No-Scalpel And Traditional Vasectomy?

Both procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and very often take place at a doctor’s office. In some cases, you may need to go to a hospital or surgical center. The operations only take around 30 minutes to complete and you can return home that same day.

In either type of vasectomy, your doctor locates the vas deferens inside the scrotum and severs it (the vas deferens are the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, where it combines with semen.). Once the tube is surgically disconnected, the doctor seals off the cut ends.

Sperm will still be produced in the testicles, and the penis and scrotum will look and feel the same as before. However, since the sperm’s passage is blocked internally, the sperm cannot leave the testicles and mix with the ejaculate. After a period of time following the operation, only seminal fluid will be released during orgasm, which won’t contain any sperm.

So how do the two procedures differ? The main difference between a no-scalpel vasectomy and a conventional vasectomy is how the doctor accesses the vas deferens.

With a conventional vasectomy, the surgeon will administer a local anesthetic with a needle that will numb the skin around the scrotum. You may also be given medication to help you relax if you are experiencing any anxiety.

The surgeon then makes two small incisions in the scrotum. They will then locate the vas deferens and sever it. The cut ends of the vas deferens will then be sealed off by either cauterizing or tying them. Finally, the surgeon will close up the incisions using stitches or other method.

During a no-scalpel vasectomy the surgeon will also numb the area around scrotum. Some surgeons use a local anesthetic that is administered by a needle while others use a topical numbing spray that does not require a needle. If needed, anti-anxiety medication may also be made available.

Rather than make an incision in the scrotum to access the vas deferens, the doctor will make a small puncture in the skin and then gently stretch the hole to view into the scrotum. They will then use the traditional method of vasectomy to and sever the vas deferens.

One research studies review of found that no-scalpel vasectomies are associated with nearly 5 times fewer complications, including from infections and hematomas (blood pooling under the skin).(1)

Additionally, this type of procedure can be performed more quickly than traditional vasectomies, and there is no need for sutures to close the incisions. There is also less pain and bleeding with a no-scalpel procedure.

Recovery Following A No-Scalpel Vasectomy

The recovery period is where the main benefit of a non-scalpel vasectomy are noticed. Conventional vasectomies take about a week to recover, and often include soreness, swelling and/or bruising.

On the other hand, with no-scalpel vasectomies, most men can return to their normal activities within just a few days. There is also less swelling and bruising involved.

Your doctor will prescribe you medication for pain after the surgery, typically acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). He or she will also  instruct you on how best to care for your scrotum after the operation.

The holes in the scrotum will heal naturally without the need for stitches. It is normal to experience some drainage and bleeding at the site. This usually resolves after about a day following surgery.

Gauze may be used to cover the holes while they heal, and will need to be changed out at home. Whether gauze dressing is used or not, it’s important to keep the area clean.

After a day or so, it is OK to take a shower, but be cautious when drying the scrotum. It is best to gently pat the area dry, rather than rubbing it.

For approximately the first 36 hours following a vasectomy, ice packs may be helpful in reducing any swelling or pain. Before applying the ice pack, make sure to wrap it in a towel.

For the first week, avoid ejaculating, either by intercourse or masturbation. Don’t lift anything heavy and refrain from running, engaging in exercise or any doing any other type of strenuous activity for at least a week.

Regardless of which type of vasectomy is performed, it will take at least three months before it will become fully effective. Sperm that were still able to be ejaculated before the procedure can survive for up to 90 days. If some other form of birth control is not used during this window, it could lead to a pregnancy.

To check for remaining sperm, your doctor will request that you have a follow up appointment 90 days following the vasectomy. You should use a reliable contraceptive method until you are sure that no viable sperm are present in your semen.

Risks and Side Effects

During the first few days following the procedure, it is normal that there may be some discomfort. Although rare, certain complications can occur, including:

  • Infection
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Prolonged or severe pain
  • Sperm granuloma (lump in the testicle caused by a buildup of sperm)
  • Hematoma (pooling of blood under the skin)

Sperm granulomas will typically go away on their own, but your doctor may give you a steroid injection to help clear it up faster. Your doctor can also give you medication to help relieve any discomfort or inflammation caused by the granuloma.

Hematomas will also typically resolve on their own without treatment. However, be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor if you feel pain or swelling within the first few weeks after your operation.

As mentioned before, another important factor to consider is that live sperm may still remain for several weeks after a vasectomy. In fact, you could have sperm in your semen for as long as six months after the surgery. Therefore, you should use dependable birth control methods until you are certain that your semen is free of sperm.

Your doctor will want to perform one or more semen analysis tests to confirm that there is no longer any viable sperm cells present in the semen.

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