Surgical Sterilization for Men

A tube called the vas deferens carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra, the part of the body that drains urine from the bladder. Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that stops the flow of sperm through the vas deferens by cutting a small section and then closing each cut end. Vasectomy does not affect sexual desire or performance, and you will continue to ejaculate semen, but it will not contain sperm. Vasectomy does not prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Is Vasectomy Right for Me?

Vasectomy is a safe and effective form of birth control but should be considered a permanent form of sterilization. Attempts can be made to reverse the vasectomy, which may or may not be successful. Insurance companies usually do not cover vasectomy reversals, which is a much more complicated surgery than a vasectomy. Do not make the decision to have a vasectomy during a stressful time, such as after the loss of a pregnancy or a divorce. You and your partner should make the decision together, when you are sure that you do not want children in the future. If you think a vasectomy is the right form of birth control for you and your partner, make an appointment with a urologist, to determine if you’re a good candidate for the surgery and to be counseled about the risks, benefits and alternatives to a vasectomy. The urologist will  examine the scrotum to make sure there will be no problems doing the vasectomy, and
ask about any medications you take, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams and over-the-counter medicines, as well as if you have:

  • Allergies
  • Issues with anesthesia or if there’s a family history of problems with anesthesia
  • Blood disorders
  • Had any surgeries
  • Medical conditions

What Happens on the Day of the Procedure? 

Your surgeon will give you a list of do’s and don’ts before your surgery. It is usually performed as an outpatient in the clinic or surgery center, using local anesthesia, and takes 30 minutes or less. On the day of your procedure:

  • You will be given a local anesthesia to numb the area.
  • Your surgeon will feel for the vas deferens.
  • To reach the vas deferens, the surgeon will make a small opening in your scrotum. The scrotum contains the testicles, blood vessels and structures that help deliver sperm and semen.
  • The vas deferens will be brought outside of your scrotum, cut, closed and placed back into your scrotum.
  • The surgeon will close the opening in the scrotum with absorbable stitches, called sutures. The sutures will eventually dissolve and will not need to be removed after the procedure.

Vasectomy is generally a safe procedure. However, as with all surgeries, there are risks, such as:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding and swelling of the scrotum 
  • Allergic reactions to medicines
  • Pain in the scrotum that continues after you heal from the procedure
  • Failure of vasectomy to cause sterility (1/2000)

What Happens After a Vasectomy? 

Right after the procedure, you will be monitored to make sure that you do not have problems before you are discharged to go home. You may be given scrotal support to wear, such as a jockstrap or underwear with a supportive pouch.

It is very important to follow the instructions you will be given:

  • Do not drive or operate machinery until your health care provider tells you it is safe.
  • Avoid heavy lifting, straining or vigorous exercise for one week after surgery.
  • Do not ejaculate for at least one week after the procedure, or for as long as you are told.
  • Use a different form of contraception for two to four months after the procedure, until you have the post vasectomy semen analysis results confirming that there are no sperm in your semen. There is a very small chance that the tied or cauterized ends of the vas deferens may reconnect (recanalization). If this happens, you could still make a woman pregnant.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Penn State Health is committed to top-quality patient care, meeting or exceeding strict national standards. That means you work with a team that’s known for their expertise. We’re recognized for:

  • Leading urology care, ranked as one of the nation’s high-performing hospitals for urology by U.S. News & World Report
  • Highly skilled urologists and surgeons, listed among the Best Doctors® in America

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