Sperm passes from the testes to the penis in tubes called the vas deferens. A vasectomy is a surgery that blocks these tubes. This makes a man unable to make a woman pregnant.
Reasons for Procedure
The surgery is done to make you sterile. This means that you are unable to cause a pregnancy.
A vasectomy is done as permanent birth control. This option is for men who are sure they will not want to father a child in the future. There is a surgery to reverse a vasectomy. However, the reverse is not always successful.
If you are planning to have a vasectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications with you, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure. These include:
In the days leading up to your procedure:
Local anesthesia will be used. It will numb the area. You may also be given medication to help you relax.
Description of the Procedure
There are three techniques for a vasectomy:
How Long Will It Take?
Conventional vasectomies take about 30 minutes. No-scalpel procedures take about 20 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You can expect some soreness for a few days. Take pain medicines as directed by your doctor.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Most men feel fine to go back to work in a few days. They may also feel ready for sexual activity in about a week. Ejaculation may cause some discomfort in the groin and testicles until the tissues heal.
A vasectomy may not make you sterile right away. Tests will be done to look for any sperm in the semen. The tests may be done at your doctor's office or with a home test kit. These tests are done to make sure that the procedure was effective.
You will need to use another form of birth control until the tests show there is no sperm in your semen.
Although a vasectomy is very effective, it is not a 100% guarantee that you will never be able to make a woman pregnant.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Urology Care Foundation
National Institutes of Health
Men's Health Centre
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby-Year Book; 1994.
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Vasectomy. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.planned.... Updated June 25, 2008. Accessed October 21, 2009.
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Last reviewed September 2012 by Adrienne Carmack, MD