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Birth Control: Vasectomy (Male Sterilization)
A vasectomy is a birth control method that prevents the release of sperm during ejaculation.

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What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a form of birth control. It prevents sperm from being released during ejaculation. During the procedure, the vas deferens are cut or blocked. The vas deferens is the duct that carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra.

Although vasectomy is theoretically reversible, reversal doesn’t always work. You should consider vasectomy only if you’re certain you don’t want to have any more children.

Sperm must travel from the testicles to the man’s urethra for pregnancy to eventually occur. Sealing or cutting the vas deferens prevents sperm from reaching the urethra. The goal of the vasectomy is for the man to have no sperm in his ejaculate so that his ejaculate cannot cause pregnancy.

A vasectomy is one of the most effective methods of birth control. According to the American Urological Association, pregnancy will occur in fewer than 2 out of every 1,000 couples in which the man has had a vasectomy.

How is a vasectomy performed?

A vasectomy must be performed in your doctor’s office or a medical facility. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss if vasectomy is the right method of birth control for you.

In one method, the doctor makes two incisions to access the vas deferens on either side of the scrotum. In another method, the doctor makes a small hole to access both tubes. They then cut and seal the tubes. Then, the doctor places stitches if you need them.

Doctors usually perform vasectomy under local anesthesia. After the procedure, you’ll need to avoid sex and any strenuous activity for about a week.

How effective is vasectomy?

Vasectomy prevents pregnancy nearly 100 percent of the time. It’s the most effective birth control method for men. However, vasectomy isn’t immediately effective. Existing sperm need to clear out of your system before it’s safe to have unprotected sex. This can take up to three months.

Your doctor will conduct a semen analysis so that you know when it’s safe to have sex. For this test, you’ll masturbate to provide a semen sample. They’ll examine it for the presence of any sperm.

What are the benefits of vasectomy?

A vasectomy is an effective and permanent way to prevent pregnancy. It’s best for men who are certain they don’t want children. A vasectomy doesn’t have any lasting effects on sexual activity or performance.

Vasectomies are easier and less expensive than female sterilization. Couples who’ve decided against having future children should discuss their options with a doctor.

What are the disadvantages and risks of a vasectomy?

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of vasectomy is that it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. Reversal may be possible in some circumstances, but it’s not always an option. Reversal is more complicated than the initial procedure.

Risks

Potential short-term risks of vasectomy include:

  • swelling
  • bruising
  • bleeding inside the scrotum
  • blood in the semen
  • infection

Long-term issues that occur due to vasectomy are rare. They include:

  • fluid buildup in the testicle
  • chronic pain
  • pregnancy

It’s uncommon for a vasectomy to heal spontaneously, but it can happen. If it does, your sexual partner may be at risk of pregnancy.

Is vasectomy for you?

Vasectomy is an effective method of birth control, but it has risks. Also, it isn’t always reversible. If you decide that you don’t want children in the future, this procedure may be a good option to discuss with your doctor.

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: [Ljava.lang.Object;@174fd2fb
Published: Jul 15, 2014
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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