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Nervous About a Vasectomy? “Laughing Gas” is Now an Option

July 28, 2022 | By: Aaron Bey, M.D.

We understand that having a vasectomy can make some patients feel nervous or anxious. That’s why The Urology Group now offers nitrous oxide for relaxation during a vasectomy.

If you aren’t familiar, nitrous oxide (N2O) – also known as laughing gas – is a colorless, sweet-smelling gas that produces a sense of relaxation and an insensibility to pain. Yet it does not completely sedate the patient. Many people are familiar with its use as a dental anesthesia, but it is also effective in other outpatient procedures.

The Urology Group offers N2O as an option for vasectomies because we understand that even common procedures are still “firsts” to our patients, and that can be unnerving. Every year, more than 500,000 U.S. men opt to have a vasectomy as a permanent form of birth control. Yet to every one of these men, it likely feels like a life-altering undertaking.

How N2O Works During a Vasectomy

If you or someone you know is curious about receiving N2O before a vasectomy, this is what to expect:

Before the procedure, the patient will receive a local anesthetic near the site of the small incision. After that, the patient will be given a mouthpiece through which the N2O gas is administered. The patient will hold the mouthpiece himself as he breathes through it, so he can manage the gas intake to his comfort level.

As the patient steadily breathes in the N2O, feelings of anxiety will subside and he may experience a sense of euphoria, but he will not lose consciousness. He may continue breathing in the N2O for the duration of the procedure, which typically takes about 30 minutes.

The effects of the sedation can be felt within just a few breaths, and they wear off shortly after the patient begins breathing in room air again. There will be no fogginess or lightheadedness after discontinuing the N2O.

Why N2O For a Vasectomy

Although the vasectomy procedure is minor, we understand some patients feel nervous or anxious beforehand.

It requires just one or two small incisions in the scrotum, through which the physician feeds tiny surgical tools to cut and remove small sections of the vas deferens – two tubes that serve as passageways for sperm to travel from the testes to the penis. The severed ends of the tubes are then sealed with heat and tied off. The incisions are closed in just two or three stitches.

The patient should be able to return home shortly after the procedure is complete. 

N2O is an Option Many Men Are Happy to Try

If you are interested in having N2O during your vasectomy, please let us know in advance.

And keep in mind that while “laughing gas” may be a determining factor for undergoing a vasectomy, it should not make the choice a light matter. As a permanent form of birth control, a vasectomy should be discussed with one’s partner and a physician. We are happy to talk.

To learn more about using nitrous oxide as a form of sedation, click here. To watch a recording of Dr. Bey’s June 6 webinar, “Planning a Family with a Vasectomy,” which includes details about the optional use of nitrous oxide, click here.

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