A vasectomy is a permanent method of birth control for males. It is a surgical procedure, typically involving local anesthesia, in which the vas deferens are cut, tied, or blocked off so that sperm cannot leave the scrotum. This prevents the expulsion of sperm from the male's body during ejaculation, with the intent of preventing pregnancy.
A local anesthesia is injected into the scrotal area so that the patient will not experience any pain. The vas deferens is then located by touch and a small incision is made in the scrotum to expose it. The doctor then cuts and removes a small section of the vas deferens and sews together or cauterizes the ends. The incision is then sutured shut and the entire procedure is repeated for the other vas deferens. This is a very simple procedure that generally takes about 30 minutes. The patient should avoid any type of strenuous physical activity for several days, apply ice to the site of incisions, and take mild painkillers for pain management.
It is important to note that vasectomies are not immediately effective because sperm still remains in the upper portion of the vas deferens. However, all of the sperm is usually flushed out within 12-15 ejaculations, or after around 10 weeks. During this time, men are advised to use an alternate method of birth control and undergo semen analysis once every couple weeks to check for semen. The man is considered sterile once he has received two negative semen analysis tests.
After the Vasectomy
A vasectomy does not alter sexual pleasure or sensation. Sex should be just as enjoyable as before, if not better (since you don’t have to worry about pregnancy).
Many males may falsely believe that they will no longer be able to ejaculate following a vasectomy. However, having this procedure done only affects the ability for sperm to enter the ejaculate and surprisingly, sperm only makes up approximately 1% of the total volume of ejaculate. The rest of the ejaculate is produced in other glands such as the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. Therefore, having a vasectomy will have a minimal effect on the volume of the ejaculate.1
Things to Consider
Male sterilization is generally an irreversible form of birth control. As with any permanent change to your body, it is important to consider the impact this will have on your life. Before finalizing your choice, consider whether or not there any circumstances in which you may want to have more children in the future. Some men freeze a sperm sample. This gives a man the option to impregnate his partner if he later decides to have more children. If sterilization seems too permanent or invasive, consider alternative forms of birth control. Finally, if in a committed relationship, be sure to discus the ramifications of sterilization with your partner before going through with the procedure.
It cannot be stressed enough that a vasectomy is meant to be a permanent and irreversible procedure. Though it is technically possible to reverse a vasectomy, the reversal surgery is very expensive and may not be effective.
Although a vasectomy is an extremely safe procedure, complications may arise. Complications include mild infections, bruising, abscesses such as blisters, sores, and inflammation, swelling containing fluid or blood, and lastly arousal or erectile problems.2
Most of these complications can be taken care of fairly easily with antibiotics, bed rest, heat or ice application, or surgical drainage (though this is a rare occurrence). Should you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
It is also important to note that the vas deferens may grow back together soon after the surgery. The risk of this occurring is much higher during the first few months after the surgery, so it is vital to continue regular semen analysis for several months after the procedure.
- Permanent method of contraceptive.
- No reoccurring actions, such as a woman taking birth control daily, needed by the user.
- Easier and cheaper than female sterilization.
- Very effective.
- Very fast recovery.
- Allows spontaneity (in the sense that you don’t need to stop and put a condom on when it is getting hot and heavy!)
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Surgical complications.
- Permanent - some men may regret their decision.
- It is a surgical procedure.
The vasectomy has a failure rate of only 0.1%, making it the 2nd most effective form of birth control (behind abstinence!)
The cost of having a vasectomy can vary anywhere from $250 to $1000. This includes the cost of the consultation, the actual procedure, and any follow up visits.
1. Greenberg, Jerrold S., Clint E. Bruess, and Sarah C. Conklin. "Male Sterilization."
Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality. 4th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett,
2011. 203-204. Print.
2. LeVay, Simon, Janice Baldwin, and John Baldwin. "Chapter 9: Contraception and
Abortion". Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland: Sinaur Associates, Inc., 2009.
Last Updated 11 December 2014.