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Vasectomy is a form of birth control for men that is becoming more popular. It is the most common non-diagnostic operation that urologists in the U.S perform. Approximately half a million men undergo 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.

Why vasectomy is a better choice 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. Benefits for women are covered later in the article.

  • Effective

A vasectomy is one of the most effective forms of birth control. According to the Urological Association guidelines, the risk of pregnancy after vasectomy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who have a sperm count of zero in a post-vasectomy semen analysis. This is equivalent to the contraceptive effectiveness of tubal ligation.

Further, the U.S. Office of Population Affairs reported that less than 1 in 100 women became 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. It can be performed in a doctor’s office rather than in an operating room.

Anatomy of vasectomy 512 x 377 Wikimedia
Photo attribution: Author: K. D. Schroeder. Vasectomy diagram-en.svg from Wikimedia Commons. License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Unlike tubal ligation, a vasectomy does not require going under general anesthesia. The procedure, instead, is most commonly done with a simple local anesthetic. Valium or a similar drug may be offered as a relaxant.

  • Reversible

While a vasectomy is a reliable form of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancy. However, 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 30-90% success rate depending on the type of procedure and other factors.

  • Lower health risks

Vasectomy patients have lower surgical 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 most 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. However, 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. First introduced to the United States in 1984, it relies on specialized surgical instruments, not scalpels, to expose the vas deferens.

This option is less invasive and has fewer risks associated with it including less bleeding, infection, and pain.

Why vasectomy is a better choice 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 risks of female sterilization

Female sterilization is associated with an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy in which the baby develops outside the womb. Vasectomy avoids exposing women to the increased risk of this serious pregnancy complication.

The bottom line

A vasectomy has many 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.


First published on 2/5/17, this article has been reviewed and updated for republication.

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.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I believe the reversal bit is a little overstated. And if I am going to have a permanent mutilation just to help my wife out, then I will suggest she also gets Tubal Ligation so that just in case my vasectomy fails, hers will act as a back up. Secondly I believe once we both know we are mutilated for life. We will stick together till death do us part. How about that for a life time partnership

  2. It’s interesting to know that the risk of pregnancy is practically none after vasectomy. My husband and I are looking for the best birth control, and he suggests vasectomy. Since we already have two kids and we do not want more, I believe that vasectomy will be the perfect option for us.

  3. Seth- Wow, let me just say women don’t just get a little moody on birth control. Birth control doesn’t even allow a woman to have a regular period. The women on birth control have not had a regular period made by their body since they started taking them. It’s a false period. That’s sounds awesome right? Also they have a lot of risks with them. Blood clots, strokes etc. Plus the time it takes her body to readjust after being on birth control for countless years can take a pregnancy up to 16 years to happen.The other forms of birth control for women have even more risks but that’s okay right? Having a IUD grow into your uterus and possibly taking your life well… as long as if your man leaves he can still have babies than who cares what women want? You really should do some research on birth control and its risks before deciding what you actually know. All men with this kind of mentality should only be in relationships with other men. Problem solved no babies and no women with upper hands.

  4. There are many factors which decide whether the vasectomy expert is the better option or not. It could be either health factor and cost effective as well. The another advantage that vasectomy has it is effective and hasn’t have any side effects like other birth control contraceptives.

  5. Every single article I have ever read about vasectomies ALWAYS compares it to tubal ligation. That one is what philosopher’s call a “false dilemma”. Couples definitely have more than two surgeries. So doctors need to stop presenting vasectomy as the “sensible alternative to tubal ligation”.

    The sensible alternative to a PERMANENT, INVASIVE SURGICAL PROCEDURE is to do something NON-SURGICAL, and NOT PERMANENT. Don’t like pills? They make you moody? Ok, lemme go under the knife to help you out.

    What gets left out in the descriptions is this: Men who have vasectomies actually tilt the balance of power in favor of their wives in the relationship. It’s more difficult for an infertile/sterile partner of either gender to get re-married after a divorce as most people getting married do want kids. So the woman whose husband gets a vasectomy puts herself at an advantage as she maintains a higher market value after a divorce (she can marry again and have more kids) while this man who can’t make any more babies has now permanently altered his market value to future wives (who usually only want to marry men who can provide them with children).

    What must not be lost is the woman is asking the man to undergo a PERMANENT PROCEDURE instead of her going through TEMPORARY measures. She has to deal with being moody? He’s being permanently altered (mutilated). And now he has given her a leg up.

    But hey, at least if she gets knocked up, he knows she cheated, right? Game theory, people…

    • Seth – So if a gal asks you to wear a condom and you bitch about any concerns regarding it then I hope she has a similar reply and tells you to basically ‘deal with it’. Also, a female’s sole purpose isn’t to give/make you babies regardless of the relationship – gf, fiance, wife. I’d love to see guys like you be a woman for a year and go through the shit they do. I’m speaking as a doctor who has watched women go through the worst side effects and repercussions of invasive therapies or medications simply because a ‘big strong man’ such as yourself refuses to do a REVERSIBLE and safe procedure that is a same-day, walk out of the office with your wits still about you time line. Some of us men understand reality ‘bro’ and some of you all need to check yourselves.

  6. Vasectomy awareness is important but less than 1 in 100 women have gotten pregnant after their partner has undergone a vasectomy as per report. This is not a great success rate. If it is 1 in 10000, people then it is good.

  7. That’s impressive that the risk of pregnancy is approximately 1 in 2,000 for men who had vasectomy. I can see why that’s a valuable procedure. It’s important to talk with your partner about any family planning decisions though.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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