Vasectomy: Effectiveness, Procedure and Side Effects


Are you searching for a reliable, long-term contraceptive method? Vasectomy is a type of permanent birth control for men. Each year, approximately more than 50,000 vasectomies are performed in the US. The procedure is relatively simple and is considered to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about vasectomy, including what it is, the associated risks, and the procedure’s effectiveness.

What is a Vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that cuts and seals off the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from the testicles to be ejaculated outside of the body. It is a permanent form of male sterilization, meaning it prevents the release of sperm during ejaculation. After having a vasectomy, ejaculation will no longer contain sperm and, therefore, cannot cause pregnancy. 

Note: The procedure does not affect hormone levels or sex drive, meaning you will still have the same physical sensations during sexual intercourse as before.

What happens during the procedure?

The vasectomy procedure typically takes around 30 minutes and is usually done under local anesthesia. There are two types of vasectomies:

  • Incision vasectomy: This involves making a small cut in the scrotum to reach the vas deferens and then cutting, blocking, or tying off both tubes.
  • No-scalpel vasectomy: This involves making a small puncture in the scrotum and pulling out both tubes. The tubes are then cut, blocked, or tied off.

In both cases, the ends of the tubes are then sealed with clips or cauterized to prevent sperm from entering the ejaculate. Cauterization involves closing the cuts with an electrical current.


Is it painful to have a vasectomy?

After the procedure, you may experience mild pain or discomfort in your scrotum, which can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications. You will also need to wear an athletic supporter or tight underwear for a few days after the procedure. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to return for a follow-up appointment a few weeks after the procedure to ensure it was successful.

What Are the Risks of a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy is generally safe, and serious complications are rare. The most common side effects include:

  • Temporary pain or discomfort at the site of the incision
  • Swelling in the scrotum
  • Minor bleeding from the incision site
  • Infection at the incision site

Long-term side effects can include chronic pain, which is rare but can occur in some people. Vasectomy does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is important to continue practicing safe sex even after having a vasectomy.

Is a vasectomy reversible?

There are two types of vasectomy reversal procedures: Vasovasostomy (VV) and vasoepididymostomy (VE). 

VV reconnects the cut ends of the tube while VE connects the tubes to an epididymis, a small organ near the testicles that stores sperm.

The success rate for vasectomy reversal depends on several factors, like how long it has been since your vasectomy, the type of procedure you had, and your age. Generally speaking, VV has a success rate of about 90-95%, while VE has a lower success rate of 65-70%.

Key takeaways

A vasectomy is generally safe, but post-vasectomy care also adds to the effectiveness of this procedure. Speak with your healthcare provider if you’re getting a vasectomy or feel discomfort post-vasectomy. Although it’s permanent, vasectomy reversal is possible.

However, vasectomy doesn’t protect against STIs, so it’s important to practice safe sex even after having a vasectomy. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the procedure or its long-term effects.

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