Sperm passes from the testicles to the penis in tubes called the vas deferens. A vasectomy is a surgery that blocks these tubes. This makes a man unable to make a woman pregnant.
A vasectomy is done as permanent birth control. This option is for men who are sure they will not want to father a child in the future. There is a surgery to reverse a vasectomy. However, the reversal is not always successful.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Your doctor may do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
In the days leading up to your procedure:
Local anesthesia will be used. It will numb the area. You may also be given medication to help you relax.
There are 3 techniques for a vasectomy:
Conventional vasectomies take about 30 minutes. No-scalpel procedures take about 20 minutes.
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You can expect some soreness for a few days. Take pain medications as directed by your doctor.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
A vasectomy may not make you sterile right away. Tests will be done to look for any sperm in the semen. The tests may be done at your doctor's office or with a home test kit. These tests are done to make sure that the procedure was effective.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Reproductive Facts—American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Urology Care Foundation
Men's Health Centre
Sharlip I, Belker A, Stanton H, Labrecque M, Marmar J, Ross L, Sandlow J, Sokal D. American Urological Association Vasectomy Guideline. Updated 2015. Available at: http://www.auanet.org/guidelines/vasectomy-(2012-amended-2015).
Vasectomy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115819/Vasectomy. Updated December 15, 2016. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Vasectomy. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/vasectomy/Pages/default.aspx. Updated June 3, 2013. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Vasectomy. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/vasectomy. Accessed December 18, 2017.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014