A vasectomy is a male sterilisation procedure after which a man should no longer be fertile.
The vasectomy procedure and how it works
A vasectomy works by stopping sperm getting into a man's semen.
It is a simple procedure during which a man’s vas tubes are cut or sealed so they no longer able to carry a man’s sperm. This means that when a man ejaculates, the semen has no sperm making a man permanently infertile.
The procedure is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, where a man is awake but does not feel any pain, and it takes about 15 minutes.
A vasectomy is considered more than 99% effective.
It is also a permanent solution and one that is very difficult to reverse. Therefore, before you go ahead with the procedure both you and your doctor need to ensure that this is really what you want. Otherwise, other methods of contraception should be discussed with you.
Recovering after a vasectomy
It is common to have some mild discomfort, swelling and bruising of the scrotum for a few days after the vasectomy.
It is also common to have blood in your semen in the first few ejaculations after a vasectomy. This should not be harmful. One can usually return to work 1 or 2 days after the vasectomy. However, you should avoid sport or heavy lifting for at least a week after the procedure to prevent any complications.
It is fine to have sex again as soon as it feels comfortable to do so. However, you will need to use another method of contraception for at least the first 8 to 12 weeks, as it can take this long to clear the remaining sperm in your tubes.
Has the vasectomy worked?
One will not know right after the procedure whether it worked. This is mainly because there can still be some sperm present in man’s semen for up to 12 weeks post vasectomy.
In order to test whether the procedure worked, you will be asked to provide semen sample twice: once after around 12 weeks, and then after around 16 weeks.
It is also important to make sure that you have ejaculated at least 20 times since the vasectomy for the test results to be accurate.
Your doctor should provide detailed instructions about your post-vasectomy semen analysis and a failure to do so can constitute a breach of duty.
Both the patient and the hospital need to ensure that the test provided is dealt with according to appropriate standards of care, which includes asking the patient to provide information as to how the sample was produced.
If both of your test results come back negative, in other words showing no sperm in your semen, then it means that the vasectomy worked as you are no longer fertile.
However, sometimes test results can be inconclusive. This could be as a result of, for example, your semen still showing some sperm. In that is the case, your doctor should address this issue and advise you that in the meantime you should still be using different methods of contraception.
A failure to properly interpret semen test results and/or advise the patient about the same would constitute a breach of duty.
Examples of negligent vasectomy treatment
A vasectomy might not always work after the first procedure and there are situations when it might need to be repeated again.
However, this is not an excuse for not detecting this and allowing a man to believe that he is infertile, which can result in complications such as unwanted pregnancy.
Your doctor may make the following mistakes that could constitute a negligent treatment:
- Failure to properly consent the patient to the procedure
- Failure to cut/seal one or both of the vas tubes during the procedure
- Failure to arrange a post-vasectomy semen tests
- Failure to advise you about the correct way to carry out the test
- Failure to appropriately handle the test results provided
- Failure to correctly interpret semen test results
- Failure to update the patient about their test results, and depending on the results, to arrange a follow-up appointment to discuss the next steps