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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
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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 — Your doctor makes a small cut in the skin on each side of the scrotum and pulls the vas deferens through the openings. Your doctor then cuts the tubes and seals the ends with stitches, clips or an electrical pulse. The vas deferens then goes back into the scrotum, and your doctor closes the incision with stitches.
  • No-scalpel vasectomy — Your doctor locates the vas deferens and attaches a clamp to hold it in place. A special tool punches a small hole in the skin. The hole stretches open to pull the vas deferens through. Your doctor then cuts and seals the tubes. The holes will heal without stitches.
  • Vas clip vasectomy — Your doctor exposes the vas deferens and places clips to cinch it in place. The clips 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. You 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 look for any sperm in the semen to ensure the procedure was effective. You can do these tests at your doctor's office or with a home test kit. 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


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.