What Is a Vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a small operation a man gets to prevent pregnancy. It blocks sperm from getting to your semen when you ejaculate. With no sperm entering the woman, they won’t get pregnant. You can still have an orgasm and ejaculate.
Your doctor can do the procedure in their office. They may call it male sterilization. Your friends might refer to it as “the snip” or “getting snipped.”
For this type, the doctor makes cuts in your scrotum to reach two tubes. Each tube is called a "vas deferens," and you have one for each testicle. Your doctor may remove a small piece of each tube and leave a short gap between the two ends. They might sear each end, but they will tie each one off with a stitch. Your doctor may be able to do both with one cut, or they may have to make a second cut. You might get stitches that dissolve over time to help the cuts close. When each vas deferens has been cut, sperm can no longer reach your semen or leave your body.
The doctor feels for each vas deferens under your scrotum and uses a clamp to hold it in place. They’ll make a tiny hole in your skin, stretch it open, and lift each vas deferens out. They’ll cut it, then seal it with searing, stitches, or both. You won’t need stitches after the procedure.
How Effective Are Vasectomies?
It’s nearly 100% effective. In very rare cases, the tubes can rejoin. In those cases, a pregnancy could happen.
Keep in mind that sperm can still get out for a little while right after a vasectomy. Be sure to get the follow-up test that checks on that, so you know when you can stop using another method of birth control just in case. Watch a video about vasectomy and its effectiveness.
Side Effects of a Vasectomy
The procedure is very safe. Complications aren’t common, but if they happen, they can include swelling, bruising, inflammation, and infection. These are almost never serious, but tell your doctor if you have symptoms.
Recovery After a Vasectomy
Once you’re home, take it easy:
- Rest for at least 1 day. You should recover completely in less than a week. Many men have the procedure on a Friday and return to work on Monday.
- You'll probably feel sore for a few days. Treat swelling and pain with an ice pack. You can also wear a jockstrap for support.
When Can You Have Sex Again After a Vasectomy?
Give it a few days. Use birth control until you get a test that shows that your semen is free of sperm. You can get this test once you've had 10-20 ejaculations after the vasectomy.
If the results show there’s still sperm in your semen, the doctor will ask you to come back later to take the test again. That’s the only way to know if you're in the clear.
Can a Vasectomy Be Reversed?
Sometimes. But reversing a vasectomy isn’t easy and doesn’t always work. Don’t get the procedure unless you're sure you won’t want to father children in the future. Get more information on how a vasectomy may be reversed.
Does a Vasectomy Make Prostate Cancer More Likely?
The research on this is mixed. The American Cancer Society says that some studies have suggested that men who have vasectomies may be slightly more likely than other men to get prostate cancer, but other studies haven’t found such a link.
The most current findings show that a vasectomy does not raise a man's risk of getting prostate cancer and that this concern should not be a reason to avoid having one. Find out more on what causes prostate cancer.