An estimated half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. Despite widespread interest in other options, there are only two reliable contraceptives for Australian men – using male condoms and undergoing a vasectomy. Of these, the surgical contraception provided by vasectomies remains the most reliable option.
Sandhurst Urology provides male contraceptive recommendations and surgical contraception from our clinic in Bendigo. To book an appointment, ask your GP for a referral.
How male contraceptives work
Unlike contraceptive options for women, male contraceptives work in only one way – by physically blocking sperm from reaching and fertilising an egg. The two primary contraceptive methods for men achieve this in two different ways:
The latex barrier allows the sperm to exit the body through the semen, but does not let them enter your partner’s body. They remain trapped inside the condom and can be disposed of after intercourse.
A surgeon ties off or cuts the vas deferens, which are the small tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra, where they mix with semen and leave the body. Men who have had a vasectomy still ejaculate as normal, though the semen does not contain sperm. Instead, the sperm are reabsorbed by the body.
Other contraceptive measures for men are being studied, but are not currently available or officially recommended for use. Though researchers remain optimistic about these developing technologies, they are not yet proven successful on a large scale or endorsed by the TGA. With further study, additional contraceptive options for men may include:
Male hormonal contraceptives
These work by changing the amount of testosterone and progestin in a man’s body, altering how his sperm develop. Delivery methods being tested include implants, injections, and pills.
These work by changing the temperature of the testicles, causing sperm to develop incorrectly or die before they leave the body. They work because sperm require a specific temperature to develop, which is several degrees cooler than the human body. Heating the testicles using ultrasound, heated underwear, hot water baths, and other methods have shown some success in preventing pregnancy.
Surgical contraception for men – vasectomy
The most successful contraception method for men is vasectomy. This minor surgical procedure typically takes no longer than 30 minutes and can permanently prevent pregnancy. Without affecting your sex drive or sexual performance.
Vasectomies can generally be performed in an outpatient clinic under a local anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic. Your urologist makes a small incision in the scrotum, locates the tubes which carry sperm into the urethra, and clamps or cuts them. This prevents sperm from exiting the body, completely preventing your chances of causing an unplanned pregnancy in about 99.99% of cases.
In rare cases, the severed ends of the vas deferens can reattach and form a new passage for sperm to pass through. Your surgeon will generally identify this problem while analysing your sperm, which occurs at a routine follow-up appointment around three months after the procedure. If they do not identify living sperm in your semen at this appointment, you may generally resume sex as normal without risk or pregnancy.
Sandhurst Urology performs vasectomy procedures under a general anaesthetic in hospital. To assess your suitability, ask your GP for a referral or call the clinic directly.
Is a vasectomy right for me?
As a man, the only person who can decide whether or not to undergo a vasectomy is you. However, you may wish to consider your future family planning to avoid regret later on. It is recommended that you discuss your wishes with your partner. Before committing to a vasectomy, ask yourself:
- Do you need protection against STIs? A vasectomy does not prevent you from catching or spreading STIs, so you may need to use condoms as an additional protective measure.
- What is your current age? Many urologists are hesitant to perform vasectomies on younger men, often because men who have vasectomies at a younger age have a higher rate of requesting a vasectomy reversal later on.
- Are you completely sure of your decision? Although technically reversible, vasectomies are considered a form of permanent sterilisation and are not recommended if you have doubts as to your future plans. If in doubt, consider using another form of contraception instead.
Reversing surgical contraception
Vasectomy can be life-changing decision that positively affects your relationships, and most men who have one do not experience regret. However, some men change their minds and wish to father children after a vasectomy. This is achieved with vasectomy reversal surgery – Sandhurst Urology performs these procedures in a private hospital setting, as they are more involved than the initial vasectomy and often require a general anaesthetic.
When performed within the first three years after a vasectomy, a vasectomy reversal has a success rate of around 90%. After that period, the success rate decreases year-on-year and drops to less that 10% when performed more than 20 years after the initial vasectomy.
As with any medical procedures, seeking professional advice before undergoing treatment is highly recommended. Ask your GP for a referral to Sandhurst Urology to discuss your long- term contraceptive options.
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