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Sperm passes from the testes to the penis in tubes called the vas deferens. A vasectomy is a surgery that blocks these tubes, making you sterile and unable to cause a pregnancy.

Male Reproductive Anatomy

male reproductive organs

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A vasectomy is done as permanent birth control. This option is for men who are sure they will not want to father a child in the future. There is a surgery to reverse a vasectomy. However, the reverse is not always successful.

The Vasectomy Procedure

There are three techniques for a vasectomy:

  • Conventional approach — One small cut will be made in the skin on each side of the scrotum. The vas deferens will be pulled through the openings. The tubes will then be cut. A small piece of the tubes may also be removed. The ends of the tube will be sealed off with stitches, clips, or an electrical pulse. The vas deferens will then be placed back into the scrotum. The incision will be closed with stitches.
  • No-scalpel vasectomy — The doctor will locate the vas deferens under the scrotal skin. A clamp will be attached to hold it in place. A special tool will be used to punch a small hole in the skin. The hole will be stretched open to pull the vas deferens through. The tubes will then be cut and sealed as above. The holes will heal without stitches.
  • Vas clip vasectomy — The vas deferens will be exposed in either of the two manners above. Special clips will be placed around each vas deferens and cinched in place. The clips will block the flow of sperm beyond the position of the clip.

Conventional vasectomies take about 30 minutes. No-scalpel procedures take about 20 minutes.

After a Vasectomy

Most men feel fine to go back to work in a few days. They may also feel ready for sexual activity in about a week. Ejaculation may cause some discomfort in the groin and testicles until the tissues heal.

A vasectomy may not make you sterile right away. Tests will be done to look for any sperm in the semen. The tests may be done at your doctor's office or with a home test kit. These tests are done to make sure that the procedure was effective.

You will need to use another form of birth control until the tests show there is no sperm in your semen.

Although a vasectomy is very effective, it is not a 100 percent guarantee that you will never be able to make a woman pregnant.

Risks of a Vasectomy

If you are planning to have a vasectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications with you, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Chronic pain in and around the testes
  • Sperm granuloma (lumps due to immune system response to sperm leaking from the reproductive organs)
  • Ability to still make a woman pregnant

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Local infections
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Prior surgery in that area

Vasectomy Complications

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given

In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Call 434.243.3675.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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