Vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to your semen. It’s done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. Vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.
Before getting a vasectomy, however, you need to be certain you don’t want to father a child in the future. Vasectomy is considered a permanent form of male birth control. Vasectomy offers no protection from sexually transmitted infections.
Why choose vasectomy?
- It’s nearly 100% effective in preventing pregnancy
- It’s an outpatient surgery with a low risk of complications or side effects
- The cost of a vasectomy is far less than the cost of female sterilization (tubal ligation) or the long-term cost of birth control medications for women
- You won’t need to take birth control steps before sex, such as putting on a condom
For most men, a vasectomy doesn’t cause any noticeable side effects, and serious complications are rare.
Side effects right after surgery can include
- Bleeding or a blood clot (hematoma) inside the scrotum
- Blood in your semen
- Bruising of your scrotum
- Infection of the surgery site
- Mild pain or discomfort
Delayed complications can include
- Chronic pain (rare)
- Fluid buildup in the testicle, which can cause a dull ache that gets worse with ejaculation
- Inflammation caused by leaking sperm (granuloma)
- Pregnancy, in the event that your vasectomy fails (rare)
The truth about vasectomies
Many men worry that a vasectomy could cause serious problems, but these fears are unfounded. For example,
- Maintain your sexual performance – A vasectomy won’t affect your sex drive or your masculinity in any way other than preventing you from fathering a child
- There is no damage to sexual organs – There’s very little risk that your testicles, penis or other parts of your reproductive system will be injured during surgery
- Cancer risk will not increase – Although there have been some concerns about a possible link between vasectomy and prostate and testicular cancer in the past, there’s no proven link
- Heart disease risk will not increase – As with cancer fears, there doesn’t appear to be any link between vasectomy and heart problems
- Will not cause severe pain – You may feel minor pain and pulling or tugging during surgery, but severe pain is rare; likewise, after surgery you may have some pain, but for most men it’s minor and goes away after a few days
Vasectomy reversal undoes a vasectomy by reconnecting the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. After a successful vasectomy reversal, sperm are again present in the semen and you may be able to get your partner pregnant. Reported pregnancy rates after vasectomy reversal range from 40 to 90 percent. Many factors affect whether a reversal is successful, including the type of vasectomy you had, and the experience of the doctor doing the reversal surgery.
Why it’s done
Men decide to have a vasectomy reversal for a number of reasons, including loss of a child, remarriage or improved finances making it feasible to raise a child. A small number of men have a vasectomy reversal to treat testicular pain that may be linked to vasectomy.
Almost all vasectomies can be reversed. However, this doesn’t guarantee success in conceiving a child. Vasectomy reversal can be attempted even if several years have passed since the original vasectomy—but the longer it’s been, the less likely it is that the reversal will work.
Vasectomy reversal rarely leads to serious complications. Risks include
- Bleeding within the scrotum – This can lead to a collection of blood (hematoma) that causes painful swelling. You can reduce the risk of hematoma by following your doctor’s instructions to rest after surgery. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid aspirin or other types of blood-thinning medication before and after surgery
- Infection at the surgery site – This isn’t common, but it is a risk with any surgery
- Sperm granuloma – Sperm leaking into the scrotum can prompt your immune system to form an inflamed mass called a sperm granuloma; granulomas may occur after surgery and can be a sign that a vasectomy reversal wasn’t successful
- Chronic pain – This is extremely rare, but possible; a minority of men have pain in the testicle area (scrotal pain) after vasectomy reversal