Pros and Cons of a Vasectomy

A vasectomy is when your doctor cuts the two tubes that let your sperm mix with your semen. It's a routine procedure that takes about 30 minutes, and you'll go home afterward.

If you're thinking about having it done, it's important to understand that there are advantages and disadvantages.

Benefits of a Vasectomy

The tube that the doctor cuts is called the vas deferens. You have two, one for each testicle.

The procedure is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancies. If you don’t want children, it's as reliable a form of birth control as you can get. It's also less likely to cause problems than a woman having her tubes tied (aka tubal ligation), and it's less expensive.

And it’s a one-time cost that may even be covered by your insurance plan.

If you're concerned about your sex drive, don't be. A vasectomy won't change it because your hormones aren't affected. The only difference is that your swimmers can’t get into the pool.

Risks of a Vasectomy

You may have some mild pain afterward along with some swelling in your scrotum and possibly a little bleeding. But these don't happen often and aren't typically serious if they do. Pain relievers and cold packs can help. About 1% to 2% of men have pain that doesn't go away.

As with any surgery, there’s the chance of infection.

A few other issues are possible but rare:

  • An ache or feeling of pressure or discomfort in a testicle
  • Sperm granuloma (a hard lump or inflammation caused by leaking sperm)
  • Spermatocele (a cyst in the tube that collects sperm)
  • Hydrocele (a sac of fluid around a testicle that causes swelling in your scrotum)

The procedure is designed to be permanent. While you can have it reversed later, there's no guarantee that your fertility will return. A lot depends on how long it’s been since your surgery (sooner is better) and the type of vasectomy you had.

In less than 1% of men, the vasectomy doesn’t take and you can still get your partner pregnant.

Other Things to Think About

  • A vasectomy won't protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. You will still need to wear condoms to avoid getting and spreading STDs.
  • It won’t affect your sexual performance or permanently damage your testicles or penis. You can still ejaculate.
  • There’s no proven link between vasectomy and testicular or prostate cancer.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on June 22, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Vasectomy (Sterilization): Risks / Benefits."

Family Doctor: "Vasectomy: What to Expect."

Mayo Clinic: "Vasectomy."

Urology Care Foundation: "What Is Vasectomy Reversal?"

American Urological Association: "The Practice of Vasectomy."

National Institutes of Health: "How is a vasectomy done?" "Vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer in a prospective US Cohort: Data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study."

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Sterilization for Women and Men."

Brigham and Women's Hospital: "Vasectomy: Six Things You Need to Know."

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: "Vasectomy: Other FAQs."

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