What is a vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a form of permanent sterilization for men. The procedure involves cutting and sealing the tubes that deliver sperm into a man’s ejaculatory fluid so he is no longer able to fertilize his partner’s eggs.

There are several vasectomy techniques currently in use, but the general procedure remains the same:

  • A small incision or puncture is created in the scrotum
  • The vas deferens (sperm tubes) are exposed by pulling them through the opening
  • A small segment of the vas deferens is removed with a scalpel
  • The open ends are usually tied and/or cauterized to ensure the vas deferens won’t reconnect

Most men describe the experience as uncomfortable but relatively painless.

Vasectomy recovery is usually very quick, with most men resuming normal activities within a few days. The majority of swelling and bruising will subside within a week, although some men may recover more slowly.

In general, sexual intercourse can be resumed after one week after the procedure. A man’s sexual functions and performance remain completely unchanged after a vasectomy. He’ll still have normal orgasms and ejaculations. Since sperm only make up 2% to 5% of the ejaculate, so the difference in ejaculatory volume won’t be noticeable to a man or his partner.

Satisfaction with the vasectomy is very high, with over 95% of men being happy they did it. Men often report that their sex lives have improved due no longer needing to worry about pregnancy after unprotected intercourse.

There are hundreds of thousands of vasectomies performed every year most doctors consider it to be one of the safest and most effective forms of permanent birth control available.

Vasectomy has a very low failure rate, with most sources placing it at approximately 1 in 2000, or .05% .

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with having a vasectomy. Complications are uncommon, but it is important that men understand the potential risks such as infection and scrotal hematoma.

While vasectomy is reversible, the reversal procedure (vasovasostomy) is expensive and more complicated. Vasectomy reversal also has a variable rate of success that depends heavily on the man’s age, years since his vasectomy, and other factors. Men should not look at vasectomy as something they can easily “undo” later in life.

A small percentage of men experience chronic pain or discomfort after a vasectomy. This is known as post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS). The exact causes of this pain are mostly unknown, but in most cases treatment for the condition is available.


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