A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that blocks the release of sperm to the semen when a man ejaculates. It’s a form of male contraception or male sterilization. During a vasectomy, the physician seals or blocks the vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. In some cases, a vasectomy can be reversed, but it should be considered a permanent form of birth control.
There are two vasectomy options. A man and his doctor can decide together which option is best. A vasectomy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure.
- Traditional vasectomy – Physicians make one or two small incisions in the scrotum to reach the vas deferens, then cut and seal them off. The vas deferens may be clamped, sealed or tied to block the flow of sperm.
- No-scalpel vasectomy – This minimally invasive procedure generally has less discomfort, faster recovery and fewer complications than the traditional vasectomy. The vasectomy is performed the same way, however, only a small hole is made to perform the procedure and no stitches are used.
Most men recover from either method of vasectomy in a few days. But, it can take several months before sperm is no longer present in the semen.
Effectiveness of Vasectomies
Vasectomies are considered to be nearly 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. The success of your vasectomy depends on closely following all of your physician’s instructions. A vasectomy does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
As a method of permanent birth control, vasectomy is cheaper, safer and more effective than a tubal ligation for women. Having a vasectomy does not affect a man’s testosterone levels or ability to have sex. An estimated 500,000 men have the procedure every year in the United States.
To find a vasectomy clinic near you, please visit our Men's Reproductive and Sexual Health locations page.