A vasectomy is a form of birth control that is becoming more popular for men and is actually the most common non-diagnostic operation that urologist perform in the U.S. with half a million men undergoing vasectomies every year. It is a permanent form of birth control that involves a minor surgical procedure to seal the vas deferens so that sperm does not reach the semen. A vasectomy is over 99% effective and has a number of great benefits for both men and women.

 

Benefits of a vasectomy for men

A vasectomy is a reliable form of birth control that helps prevent unplanned pregnancy. Read on to learn about the benefits it provides, specifically for men.

Effective

A vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of birth control. After getting a vasectomy, the risk of pregnancy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have a sperm count of zero in a post-vasectomy semen analysis, according to the Urological Association guidelines, which is equivalent to the contraceptive effectiveness of tubal ligation. And the U.S. Office of Population Affairs reported that less than 1 in 100 women have gotten pregnant after their partner has undergone a vasectomy.

Easy procedure

To perform a vasectomy, a doctor makes one or two small punctures in order to access the vas deferens tubes, which are then cut and sealed. The procedure usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes and can be performed in a doctor’s office rather than in an operating room. Unlike tubal ligation, a vasectomy does not require going under general anesthesia. The procedure, instead, is most commonly done with a simple local anesthetic and a relaxant like Valium may be offered.

Reversible

While a vasectomy is a reliable form of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancy, it can be reversed should a couple desire to have children after the procedure. Approximately, 30,000 men out of the 500,000 vasectomy patients each year choose to reverse their vasectomy. Vasectomy reversals tend to be successful, ranging from a 30-70% success rate depending on the type of procedure.

Lower health risks

Vasectomy patients have lower health risks than women who undergo tubal ligations. One reason is that a vasectomy avoids risks associated with general anesthesia. A vasectomy is also a less invasive procedure, lowering the risk of bleeding and infection. Lastly, vital organs are not exposed in a vasectomy, unlike in a tubal ligation.

Lower cost

A vasectomy is one of the most cost-effective forms of contraception. The average cost of a vasectomy is thousands of dollars cheaper than the sterilization methods for women. Tubal ligation can cost up to $6,000. In comparison, a vasectomy costs between $800 and $1,000. Over a period of 10 years, a vasectomy is cheaper than other forms of birth control as well.

One-time cost

A vasectomy is a permanent choice of birth control, which means it is just a one-time expense. While other contraceptives like condoms or pills may have a cheaper initial cost, the total cost accrues with each purchase. Years of using oral contraceptives and condoms become more expensive over time. For couples who no longer want to have children, a vasectomy is the more cost-effective option.

Often covered by insurance

Not only are vasectomies a one-time cost, but this cost is often covered by medical insurance. This means that the procedure costs significantly less once you have met your deductible.

Does not affect sexual pleasure

Although many studies on the correlation between sexual pleasure and vasectomies are poorly defined, men reported that they did not experience negative effects on sexual function. This is also described as a non-factor in the American Urological Association guidelines; 98-99% of men were satisfied with the results of their vasectomies. Evidence also shows that a man’s orgasm does not change after a vasectomy.

Fast recovery

Men may experience minor symptoms after a vasectomy including bruising, swelling, and pain after the procedure, but those symptoms typically only last for a few days. According to the American Urological Association, only 1-2% of men experience chronic scrotal pain. After getting a vasectomy, a patient needs to rest for 24 hours and abstain from sexual activity for a week. This recovery time is much shorter than tubal ligation, which may take from one to two weeks.

No-scalpel vasectomies available

To speed up recovery time, a no-scalpel vasectomy procedure has been developed. It was first introduced to the United States in 1984 and relies on surgical instruments and not scalpels to expose the vas deferens. This option is less invasive and has even less risks associated with it including less bleeding, infection, and pain.

 

Benefits of a vasectomy for women

While vasectomies are performed on males, they provide a number of benefits to female partners as well. Although tubal ligation is still a more popular form of permanent birth control, read about some of the benefits a vasectomy offers specifically to women.

Stop hormonal birth control

While each woman reacts differently to oral contraceptives, the pill typically results in exaggerated mood changes. If her partner undergoes a vasectomy, a woman can avoid taking hormonal pills and can effectively regulate her mood better. A vasectomy also removes the constant worry of trying to remember a daily pill.

Avoid tubal ligation

As mentioned, tubal ligation is a much more invasive procedure than a vasectomy. There are greater risks, a longer recovery time, and a higher cost associated with tubal ligation. A vasectomy prevents a woman from having to undergo this invasive procedure, going to the operating room, and being put under general anesthesia. Because of these risks, a vasectomy is actually safer than tubal ligation.

Prevent failure of female sterilization

One risk associated with female sterilization is ectopic pregnancy, in which the baby develops outside the womb. This failure of female sterilization can be prevented with a vasectomy.

 

Conclusion

A vasectomy has many other benefits for both male and females; the decision to undergo this procedure is a very personal one and should be discussed between the couple. Consult a doctor if you are considering this procedure or if you have any further questions.

Parviz K. Kavoussi, MD
Dr. Parviz Kavoussi holds academic positions as Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and in the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, where he teaches residents training in urology; helps guide best clinical practices in male fertility in his position on the American Society of Andrology Public Affairs and Policy Committee; and is an expert peer reviewer for multiple scientific medical journals. Dr. Kavoussi runs the Austin Center for Vasectomy & Vasectomy Reversal and is the leading and only specialty fellowship trained Vasectomy Urologist in Austin, TX.

2 COMMENTS

  1. In your article, you stated that a vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of birth control and after getting a vasectomy, the risk of pregnancy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have a sperm count of zero in a post-vasectomy semen analysis. My brother called me last night because his wife told him that she didn’t want to have any more children and someone suggested that he have a vasectomy operation. I wonder if there is an age that is considered too young to have this type of procedure.

  2. Although there is not a defined minimum age for vasectomy, he should be at least the age of a consenting adult, responsible for his own medical decision-making. We caution our patients that this is a decision we like our patients to be definite about, especially because out of the half million men in the US that undergo vasectomy, roughly 6% (or 30,000 men) change their minds within 10 years of the vasectomy. Although vasectomies are reversible and we have a very high success rates in vasectomy reversals, a vasectomy should be approached as a permanent sterilization decision.

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