What Is a Vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a form of male sterilization, or “permanent contraception”, that is greater than 99 percent effective. It is the fourth most common method of contraception used in the US, following condoms, birth control pills and tubal ligation. 

A vasectomy works by disconnecting the vas deferens -- the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles. It is a 20-minute procedure that can be performed with local anesthesia in an office-based setting or under intravenous sedation, depending on patient and urologist preferences. After the surgery, sperm will not be able to leave the testicles and cause pregnancy.

A vasectomy should not decrease sex drive, nor negatively impact ability to have an erection or orgasm. Only five to 10 percent of the ejaculate comes from the testicles, with the remainder created from upstream structures such as the prostate and seminal vesicles. For this reason, ejaculation will look and feel the same after vasectomy, though microscopically there will be no sperm in the semen.

What Happens After a Vasectomy?

After the surgery, your sperm count in the ejaculate will begin to decrease gradually. Other birth control methods will need to be used until the semen sample comes back completely sperm-free, which usually takes about two months or 20 ejaculations.

It is important to consider whether a vasectomy is right for you and your partner. If you are unsure whether you should have children or are interested in temporary birth control, a non-permanent method may be more effective. However, life is dynamic and as such, vasectomy reversal is an option. 

Learn more about vasectomy reversals

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