Treatment Options

Vasectomy

Significant Value

A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that causes sterility and inability to father a child. Before a vasectomy you would receive a mild sedative to help you relax. The area on both sides of the scrotum is numbed by injecting medication that may feel like a sting. Two small incisions or two small openings (no-scalpel vasectomy) are made in the scrotum, which contains thin tubes that carry sperm. The thin tubes are lifted through the incisions or openings, and sealed, tied, or clipped. This prevents sperm from entering the semen. The body absorbs the sperm. However, following a vasectomy it takes about twelve weeks before the semen is clear of active sperm. It is important for a couple to take reliable measures to prevent pregnancy until a test of the semen shows no sperm.

Following the procedure avoid strenuous labor or exercise for about one week. Talk with your health care provider about any other restrictions or measures that you need to take. You can typically return to work in a week or less. Some men have the procedure on Friday and return to work on Monday.

Things to Consider

  • Vasectomy is one of the most common and popular types of birth control used worldwide.
  • Vasectomy is the most effective birth control for men and it is nearly 100 percent effective, but it is not guaranteed.  Another contraceptive method should also be used for the first three months following a vasectomy.  At that time, a semen count should be done to ensure the effectiveness of the vasectomy.  
  • Over half-a-million men undergo vasectomy every year.
  • Vasectomy is intended to be permanent. Attempts to reverse a vasectomy are rarely successful. A surgical procedure to reverse a vasectomy is more difficult and expensive than a vasectomy, and is generally not paid for by insurance. If you think you may want a reversal in the future, a vasectomy may not be for you.
  • You need to be certain that you no longer wish to have a child biologically in the future.
  • Vasectomy is performed in a physician’s office or clinic and takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Vasectomy does not affect male hormones or manliness, sexual function or sensation. Talk with your health care provider and your sexual partner if you are thinking about having a vasectomy. Talk about the advantages, disadvantages, and risk of this procedure.

Results

Significant Value

Will I live longer if I have this procedure?

Scientific evidence has not shown that having a vasectomy affects your length of life.

Will having a vasectomy improve my quality of life?

Possibly. Removing the chance of an unplanned pregnancy with the additional responsibilities could improve the quality of life for a man who chooses to have a vasectomy.

Does having a vasectomy make my symptoms better?

There are no medical symptoms before a vasectomy. A vasectomy will not prevent or improve the symptoms of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.

Safety

Significant Value

How safe is this procedure for me?

A vasectomy is considered safe, simple, effective and permanent. It does not affect sexual drive, sensation or function.

Minor reported complications:  

  • Mild pain
  • Swelling and/or tenderness of the scrotum
  • Bruising

Most reported complications after a vasectomy are minor and should last no longer than two weeks. Discomfort will vary from man to man depending on various factors including individual tolerance. Your physician may recommend a mild pain reliever, an athletic support, sitz bath, and ice packs to the incision and avoiding hard work.

Major reported complications:

  • Infection or swelling around the incision or inside your scrotum
  • Fever or chills
  • Increasing pain
  • Drainage
  • Bleeding under the skin possibly causing swelling or bruising
  • Growing lumps in the scrotum

Major reported complications are rare. Contact your physician if you experience any of the complications listed above.

Failure of the vasectomy resulting in the pregnancy of a partner is rare. Failure occurs when the tubes are not completely sealed off during the surgery, the cut ends of the tubes join together by themselves, or an opening develops that lets sperm pass through.

Comparison

Significant Value

Alternative treatments (behavioral modification) include:

  • Abstinence
  • Condoms
  • Sterilization procedures for women, which are more expensive and invasive than a vasectomy is for men
  • Birth control methods for women, such as the pill, patch, ring, shot, intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are about 97 percent effective
  • Other birth control methods for women, such as diaphragms, foams, and jellies.

Cost

Significant Value

The cost of a vasectomy is about $1,000 - $3,000. The cost will vary depending on the physician’s fees, medication, counseling, clinic and follow-up fees including the laboratory fee for the sperm count. The costs will also vary depending on the part of the country where the procedure is performed. You can ask for an estimate prior to the procedure.

The cost may or may not be covered by your health benefits plan.

Sources

The following are off-site links off-site link :

Mayo Clinic. (2013, February). Vasectomy: An effective form of male birth control. Retrieved July 8, 2014 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vasectomy/MY00483/METHOD=print.

Vasectomy.com. (2012, September). What to expect from the vasectomy procedure. Retrieved July 8, 2014 from http://www.vasectomy.com/ProcedureDetail.asp?id=3#generally.

Next Review Date

8/14/2015

This document has been classified as public information.

Table of Findings

results:  significant value

safety:  significant value

comparison:  significant value

cost: significant value


total: significant value

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Page modified:November 12, 2012