A no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy is a permanent form of male contraception in which sperm is prevented from entering the semen. Doctors can perform this less-invasive procedure without using a scalpel to cut the scrotum or a needle to inject anesthesia. The no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy is done through a small puncture in the scrotum, and no stitches or sutures are required to close the opening.
The No Needle, No Scalpel Procedure
A no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy takes 20 to 30 minutes, and can be done as an outpatient procedure.
During a traditional vasectomy, anesthesia is injected into the skin to numb the scrotum (the dual-chambered sack that holds the testicles) and vas deferens (the ducts that carry sperm from the coiled tube located at the rear of each testicle). A doctor then uses a scalpel to make an incision in the scrotum, which allows the vas deferens to be pulled through so that it can be severed and closed off by tying the two ends or sealing them with heat (thermocautery). This prevents sperm from entering the semen, making a man sterile.
In a no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy, a special tool (injector) is used to spray a high-pressure stream of anesthetic through the skin of the scrotum. This numbs both the vas deferens and surrounding tissues without the use of a needle.
Instead of a scalpel, the doctor uses a specially designed sharp clamp to make a small hole (puncture) in the scrotum. The hole is gently stretched to enable the doctor to pull the vas deferens through the puncture, cut it and seal off the ends with either sutures or by way of thermo-cautery.
The doctor also positions a layer of tissue surrounding the vas deferens so that it separates the two cut ends. This reduces the chance of the two ends growing back together. Because the puncture is so small (2 to 3 millimeters), it seals itself after the procedure, often by the next day. Antibiotic ointment is applied to the puncture hole, along with a gauze bandage. The patient is advised to wear an athletic supporter or tight-fitting underwear to keep the scrotum hoisted and in a comfortable position during the healing process.
Benefits of a No Needle, No Scalpel Procedure
The main benefits of the no-needle, no-scalpel procedure, as compared to a traditional vasectomy, include:
- no incision or sutures
- less bleeding and bruising
- less pain
- fewer infections at the puncture site
Potential Complications of No Needle, No Scalpel Vasectomy
The no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy has similar risks as the traditional vasectomy, such as:
- minor discomfort and swelling of the scrotum for 2 to 3 days
- bruising for up to a week
- infection or bleeding from the puncture site
- feeling of heaviness in the testes for 2 to 3 weeks
- persistent pain in the testes for longer than 3 months in a small number of patients
- may not be effective
After vasectomy, some sperm can remain in the lower end of the vas deferens (beyond the cut), which can cause pregnancy if ejaculated. It takes at least 12 weeks before the doctor can be certain that the procedure was successful. Your doctor will check your semen for the presence of sperm at least twice, with the tests done four to six weeks apart.
This procedure should not affect a man’s sex drive or performance. Men who have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection after a vasectomy should check with their doctor. Many other factors can cause erectile dysfunction, including heart disease, low testosterone, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Recovery after a No-Needle, No-Scalpel Procedure
To speed up the recovery, men should follow their doctor’s instructions. This may include wearing a jock strap continually, except while showering, for the first four days and then only while exercising for the first month.
For a full recovery, men should wait two weeks after the procedure before having sexual intercourse. Also, sterility is not instantaneous. Men who have undergone this procedure should use a condom during sex until their doctor confirms that they are sterile.
Success Rates of the No-Needle, No-Scalpel Procedure
No vasectomy procedure is 100 percent effective. The no-needle, no-scalpel procedure is successful in about 99.5 percent of the cases.
Over the short-term, this procedure fails in about 1 in 500 procedures. This may occur if the two cut ends of the vas deferens are not completely sealed, or if the the ends grow back together. No-scalpel vasectomy is even more successful over the long run, however, failing in about 1 in 4,500 procedures.
Cost of a No Needle, No Scalpel Vasectomy
The cost of a no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy ranges from $400 to $1,200. The procedure may be covered by health insurance. Before you schedule the procedure, check with your insurance carrier and doctor to see which fees are covered.