Vasectomy is among “straightforward” surgeries a human being can go through, says Dr Job Obwaka, a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Gilead Women’s Centre in Nairobi.
Dr Obwaka has more 30 years of experience performing vasectomies: “In excess of 800,” he says. He has yet to witness any noteworthy complication arising from the procedure.
“I have only seen one patient who bled a little on the higher side but nothing alarming. Doctors dealt with quickly and the patient went home fine.”
Vasectomy, he says, is not an invasive surgery. It is done under local anesthesia (without needing to put the patient to sleep). And, it is classified as a minor theatre procedure. The surgery lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Compared to tubal ligation – the equivalent procedure done on women – vasectomy has little chance of resulting in life threatening complications.
The surgery is done on the periphery. “For tubal ligation the doctor enters the abdominal cavity – which has many other things that could be tampered with,” he explains.
Vasectomy is reversible through an advanced level of surgery known as micro-surgery. “That technique is not available in Kenya,” he says.
Even if it were, micro-surgery (to reverse vasectomy) costs around Sh450,000. Compared to vasectomy itself, which costs around Sh45,000, micro-surgery is expensive by a factor of 10.
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At the same time, the rate of success among those going through the surgery to reverse vasectomy “is approximately 30 per cent,” notes Obwaka. For every 10 reversals, just about 3 will likely be able to sire a child via sexual intercourse.
“In Kenya, we tell everyone who wants to undergo vasectomy that the procedure is permanent and that they should not be hopeful that at some point it would be reversed.”
Vasectomy is nearly 99 per cent successful. However, after the procedure, a couple are usually advised to use an extra contraception for at least 3 months.
“After the three months we take semen sample from the man to check if sperms are still found in the man’s ejaculation. If we find none we declare the procedure successful,” Obwaka says.