Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | January 16, 2014

Score a Family Planning Touchdown

by Aaron Lentz, MD

refereeIn sports, they say the best defense is a good offense. It applies to plenty of things off the field, too.

Take family planning, for instance. There are a number of ways to prevent unplanned pregnancies. But the safest, quickest and least expensive way, by far, is vasectomy. My medical partner, Dr. Charles Viviano, and I are hoping to raise awareness for this underutilized form of contraception with our Big Game Vasectomy Blitz clinic on Friday, Jan. 31.

When men get the procedure done on a Friday, our expectation is that they’ll return to work the following Monday. The recovery really is that quick. If you have the procedure on the Friday before pro football’s biggest event, you’ll have an exciting game to look forward to just two days later. We’ll even send everyone home with an ice pack and have a drawing for a prize pack featuring novelty items and snacks.

The outpatient procedure takes just 20 to 25 minutes and is performed with a local anesthetic. The technique we use is minimally invasive and heals very quickly. We offer a low-dose sedative, and the patient remains awake during the procedure. We’re generally carrying on a conversation during the brief time it takes. Patients can expect a full recovery in just 48 to 72 hours.

Aaron Lentz, MD

Aaron Lentz, MD

Charles Viviano, MD

Charles Viviano, MD

Men generally feel so good immediately after the procedure that we have to caution them not to overdo it. They shouldn’t head for the gym for a game of hoops. We recommend taking it easy for two days. Use an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas or corn) and Tylenol as needed. Compression underwear or a jock strap helps reduce any swelling. Post-vasectomy, men shouldn’t engage in any real strenuous activity for a week or so. But after that, it’s back to normal with no restrictions.

One caveat, though. It’s important for men and their partners to know the procedure does not render them immediately sterile. We have patients come back eight to 16 weeks after a vasectomy for a follow-up semen analysis. Once we confirm the results, the patient is considered sterile.

Around 500,000 vasectomies are performed in the United States each year, making it one of the most common non-diagnostic procedures in the country.

We always begin with a consultation – either one-on-one or with a group of men – and their spouses or partners – considering it. In fact, we encourage spouses to attend. It should be a joint decision, and I’m sure men appreciate the support from their significant other. During the consultation, we review all the benefits and talk about the (minimal) risks.

Downsides? Very few, really. The procedure should be considered permanent, so you need to be certain about your decision. But other than that, a vasectomy should not impact a man’s libido, his ability to have and maintain an erection or the amount of ejaculate.

The average age patient we see is between 35 and 50 years old, although we do see both younger and older men. Sometimes the younger men have had wives who have endured difficult or even dangerous pregnancies. They choose to get sterilized rather than risk another tough pregnancy. One recent patient has one child, but his wife was on bed rest for most of her pregnancy. They’d like to have more kids, but they decided adopting would be the best way to go.

A vasectomy is clearly a great defensive move. Its effectiveness in preventing unplanned pregnancies is second only to abstinence.

This football season, consider being a family planning MVP. Ice up, and be ready for a restful weekend – and the kickoff on Sunday, Feb. 2


Want to learn more, or schedule your consultation appointment? Call Duke Urology of Raleigh at 919-862-5600.


Aaron C. Lentz, MD is a urologist at Duke Urology of Raleigh. Check out these patient education resources to learn more about the procedure, and other services.

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