FAMILY PLANNING: Who Should Be Snipped?

Everything you need to know about vasectomies and tubal ligation
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You and your partner have decided your family is complete. Now the question you must answer: Who will take responsibility for making sure your bodies stick to the plan?

We spoke to a urologist and gynecologist to get all the details on the two common surgical options for permanent birth control. Because do we really need any more barriers to jumping in the sack together?

In the spirit of not burying the lede, like all things related to conception, birth, and rearing – the man has it way easier in the permanent birth control department. And while, true to form, they tend to have more resistance to the procedure than women, both doctors we spoke to make compelling medical, and relational, arguments for why this is a good time for men to step up to the reproductive plate.

“In all fairness to their partner, men should at least go to a urologist for a vasectomy consult,” says gynecologist Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones. “Contraception falls to women all of the time and there are two people in a sexual relationship.”

Let’s not forget pregnancy and childbirth, too.

Here’s the lowdown on both procedures:


We spoke to Holly Thomas, PA-C, of Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, whose uptown office performs about 10 to15 vasectomies each Friday. Nothing says quick, common, and easy like banging out a baker’s dozen on the least productive day of the work week!

First and foremost, let’s dispel the myths. According to Thomas, men’s top concerns with the procedure are how it will impact their erection and ejaculate. Luckily, it won’t affect either. Not a single bit.

Testosterone production isn’t impacted either. Nothing is being taken away from you, guys. Think of it like putting a water filter on your faucet. Who doesn’t want purified water?

Here’s what you can expect:

Procedure time: Performed in office, the whole procedure takes about 15 minutes. In the time it takes you to gas up your tank and go through the car wash, you’ll be in and out of doctor’s office.

What the procedure entails: The doctor administers a local anesthetic to the scrotum area to prevent any pain. (For men who require a little more hand holding, conscious sedation can be used.) After making a small puncture (no scalpel required!) less than one centimeter in size, the doctor makes a simple snip of the vas deferens. Easy-peasy.

Pain: Some men can experience a little swelling or bruising, but it’s nothing a little Tylenol or Motrin can’t fix.

Recovery: Thomas says the procedure is scheduled on Fridays so guys can rest over the weekend. There’s no heavy lifting for three to four days. But expect to return to work on Monday without a problem.

When it’s safe for unprotected sex: It takes 20 to 30 ejaculates to fully clear the sperm from the pipes. Once they’ve cleared those numbers, patients bring in a sample that Thomas puts under the microscope to confirm that it’s sperm-free. If it is, you’re good to ejaculate without fear. Doesn’t that sound exciting?!

Success rate: Aside from abstinence, vasectomies are considered the most effective form of birth control, with a long-term success rate of over 99%. That’s some good odds!


We spoke with gynecologist and women’s sexual health and wellness advocate Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones, who just announced she’ll move her practice to the newly opened Tryon Women’s Center. You can visit her there for all things sexual health-related starting in March.

Kelly-Jones gave us all the info on tubal ligation, or what’s commonly referred to as having your “tubes tied.” If a vasectomy is a quick trip to the gas station, the female procedure is a trip to the DMV.

Here’s what you can expect:

Procedure: Performed as an outpatient surgical procedure, the patient is put under anesthesia. A small incision is made under the belly button, and then both fallopian tubes are cut, cauterized, or clipped to block the passage of a released egg. Sometimes, the fallopian tubes are removed entirely, as recent evidence shows it reduces the risk for ovarian cancer.

A tubal ligation can also be performed immediately after a c-section, eliminating the need for a separate surgical procedure.

Pain: Pain will vary based on whether the procedure is performed after childbirth or in on its own. Most patients will experience normal post-surgical discomfort at the incision site, and abdominal pain and fatigue are also common.

Recovery: Kelly-Jones says a patient will on average need about two weeks of recovery time before returning to normal activities.

When it’s safe for unprotected sex: Whenever the doctor clears you for post-surgical activities.

Success rate: Tubal ligation is safe and effective, with fewer than 1 out of 100 women becoming pregnant after having the procedure. Kelly-Jones warns that the younger the patient is when they have the procedure, the greater their risk of procedure failure. It’s important to note that those who do get pregnant after having a tubal ligation are at risk for ectopic pregnancy – a dangerous condition that requires surgery.

All in, a vasectomy ranks as the quickest, easiest, and most effective form of permanent birth control. So, if you’re a man who desires unrestricted sexual activity, take matters into your own hands. Because if you put the responsibility on her, you might be forced to live a sexual life doing the same.