What is a vasectomy?

What is a vasectomy

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that permanently controls your fertility by preventing sperm from leaving your body (contraception). The procedure closes the ends of the sperm-transporting vas deferens. Vasectomy is a safe and reliable method of preventing pregnancy, but it does not offer health protection. (1)

How effective is a vasectomy?

The only way to prevent getting pregnant is to avoid sexual activity. The failure rate of a vasectomy is quite low, nevertheless. Sperm can sometimes travel through the divided ends of the vas deferens following a vasectomy, which happens around 1 in 10,000 times. Vasectomy has long been a reliable and effective method of birth control. 

Following a vasectomy, semen samples are regularly examined to ensure that the treatment was effective. You might require a second vasectomy if the semen samples you’ve taken continue to contain sperm. 

This has a failure rate significantly lower than any other form of birth control, occurring roughly once every 10,000 cases. For instance, one condom fails out of every 100 uses, or roughly 1% of the time. (2)

How is vasectomy done?

Vasectomy has two types. One is incision vasectomy and the other is no-scalpel vasectomy. Both procedures are carried out at clinics or outpatient facilities. Both numb your scrotum with a local anesthetic. A shot of anesthetic is administered. 

The vas deferens (the tubes that deliver sperm) are divided and their ends are sealed during both types of vasectomy, preventing sperm from passing through. This prevents sperm from combining with semen and releasing during a man’s sexual ejaculation. 

To access the vas deferens, the doctor will cut your skin. The vas deferens are then cut, trimmed, or cauterized after being separated and connected. With etching, an electric current closes the cuts.

There is very little discomfort associated with a vasectomy. Although your scrotum will be numb, some men report feeling a tiny “pulling” or moving sensation. Depending on how they typically carry out the treatment, your doctor will determine if you require stitches. (3)

What should I consider before deciding to have a vasectomy?

Before beginning the procedure, your doctor will inquire about your condition, give you information, and possibly even recommend counseling. 

Only if you are certain that you do not want any additional children or any children at all should you have a vasectomy. 

If you have a partner, discuss it with her before making a decision. Although it would be ideal if you could both agree to the procedure, it is not legally required to obtain your partner’s consent. 

A vasectomy may be more likely to be approved if you are over 30 and have had children. However, your GP may refuse to carry out the procedure or reject you if they believe it is not in your best interest. (4)

Can anyone have a vasectomy? 

Only if you are absolutely sure you do not want any more children should you have a vasectomy. Always consider it to be long-term. 

This is due to the possibility of trying to reverse the situation after the operation, but it might not be successful. It might not be feasible to become pregnant even after a good operation. (5)

Does it affect sex drive? 

No, your testicles will continue to produce testosterone as they did before the vasectomy if it was successful. 

Your sex drive, feelings, and ability to get an erection will not be affected. The main distinction is that your semen will not include any sperm. Sperms are still being produced by your body, but they are safely reabsorbed into your body. 

Risks and side effects of a vasectomy

A vasectomy stands as a highly reliable and safe form of surgical contraception, yet it carries certain risks and side effects. Initially, individuals might experience mild discomfort, including pain, swelling, bruising, and minor bleeding. These symptoms are typical and often subside within days following the procedure. Moreover, there is a slight chance of infection, characterized by fever, redness around the surgical site, and escalated scrotal pain. Additionally, patients may encounter a hematoma, a blood clot within the scrotum, which generally resolves with adequate rest and the application of ice packs.

Short-term effects include:

  • Mild pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding

Furthermore, a condition known as sperm granuloma can occur, manifesting as a small, benign lump due to sperm leakage from the vas deferens. Another rare but notable complication is chronic pain, persisting long after the surgery. Lastly, though vasectomy failure is rare, there exists a minimal chance that the vas deferens might reconnect, posing a risk of unintended pregnancy. Each of these potential outcomes requires consideration and understanding before proceeding with a vasectomy.


Babayan, R. K., & Krane, R. J. (1986). Vasectomy: what are community standards?. Urology, 27(4), 328-330.

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