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Male Sterilization


Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

  • Out of 100 women each year whose partner has had a vasectomy, less than one may become pregnant.
  • One-time, permanent procedure.
  • No STD protection.
  • Office visit required.

What is male sterilization or vasectomy?

Male sterilization, or vasectomy, is a procedure performed on a man that will permanently keep him from being able to get a woman pregnant. This procedure keeps a man’s sperm from going to his penis, ensuring that his ejaculate does not have any sperm in it that can fertilize an egg.

What is the procedure like?

Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure done under local anesthesia. After the local anesthesia is injected, the healthcare provider makes tiny cuts (incisions) in the scrotum, the sac that holds the testes or “balls.” The vas deferens—two tubes that carry sperm to the penis—are then cut, tied, or blocked.

Some men receive a no-scalpel vasectomy where, instead of cutting the skin of the scrotum, very tiny holes are made. The tubes that carry sperm are pulled through the holes and tied off and cut. A no-scalpel vasectomy does not require stitches.

After a vasectomy, a man will still produce semen (the fluid that comes out of his penis when he has sex). A man will need to return to his healthcare provider about three months after the vasectomy for testing to ensure there are no sperm in his semen. It takes about three months to completely clear the sperm out of the man’s reproductive system. A man should use another type of birth control (like a condom) until his healthcare provider tells him there are no longer any sperm in his semen.

How effective is it?

Out of 100 women each year whose partner has had a vasectomy, less than one may become pregnant.

Where to go for a vasectomy?

A vasectomy can be done in a medical office or clinic. It is an outpatient procedure, so a man can go home the same day.

While not all family planning clinics perform vasectomies, your local family planning clinic may be able to tell you where vasectomy is available in your area.


Advantages of vasectomy

  • Vasectomy is a safe and highly effective approach to preventing pregnancy.
  • It is permanent, so there is no need to worry about birth control again.
  • The procedure is simple to do and usually involves only a small amount of discomfort.
  • There is a short recovery time after the procedure.
  • It is the most cost-effective of all birth control methods.
  • It is private. It is your choice if your partner knows about it.

Drawbacks of vasectomy

  • Vasectomy does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Always use a condom to reduce the risks of STDs.
  • It requires a visit to a clinic or medical office.
  • There is a risk of swelling, bruising, and tenderness for a short time after the procedure.
  • Very rarely, the tubes that carry sperm can grow back together; when this happens there is a risk of pregnancy.
  • Some men, or their partners, later change their minds and wish they could have a child or additional children.

Did You Know?

Sterilization is a permanent procedure, but other contraceptive methods can provide temporary pregnancy prevention.

Learn More About Contraceptive Methods

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on November 28, 2017