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Vasectomy Patients Fail To Verify Their Sterility

Cleveland Clinic Study Finds Most Vasectomy Patients Fail To Verify Their Sterility

Lab Tests Cited as Necessary Follow-up

Twenty-five percent of men who undergo vasectomies forego having their semen tested to determine the procedure’s effectiveness, according to a Cleveland Clinic study published in the April issue of the British Journal of Urology.

The study also found that of 436 men who participated, a mere 21% complied with post-vasectomy instructions, which included submitting two consecutive semen samples declared free of sperm, to determine the procedure’s success.

Vasectomies serve as a permanent form of birth control for men by preventing the transport of sperm. However, it can take several months for the procedure to be considered an effective means of birth control, underlining the importance of follow-up testing.

“Our results show that only three-quarters of the men in this study showed up for their eight-week sperm test, which means that a quarter of them had no idea whether the procedure was successful or if their partner could become pregnant,’ said Nivedita Dhar, M.D., Chief Resident of Urology at the Glickman Urological Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “Without proper follow-up, it’s impossible to assess the true vasectomy failure rate, despite careful counseling and physician recommendations.”

Physicians typically recommend that patients have their semen tested for sperm at least twice, at eight and 12 weeks, following their procedures. If sperm is detected after two tests, most physicians recommend additional follow-up testing.

The study at the Clinic found that of 327 men who returned for follow-up testing at eight weeks, 25%, or 83 men, were producing sperm, three men were producing active sperm and one man was diagnosed with a failed vasectomy. At twelve weeks, 65 of the 80 men were given the all-clear. Six months after undergoing their procedures, eight men were still producing motile sperm, whereas at ten months, semen samples for all but the vasectomy failure were reported as clear.

J. Stephen Jones, M.D., Vice-Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman
Urological Institute and Director of the study, said these findings are consistent with previous research addressing non-compliance among vasectomy patients.

Dr. Jones suggested that compliance could be improved by recommending one follow-up test at 12 weeks, with further follow-ups if sperm is present.

‘It’s very important the couples use additional contraception until the vasectomy is determined successful,’ Jones added.

Every year since 1990, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Glickman Urological Institute the best in Ohio and one of the top five urology departments in the United States. For the past six years, the Glickman Urological Institute has been ranked 2nd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit
multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ survey. Approximately 1,500 full-time salaried physicians at Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Florida represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In 2004, patients came for treatment from every state and 100 countries. Cleveland Clinic website address is

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