Sterilization (Men)

THE BASICS

What is it?

Sterilization for men is a procedure that blocks sperm before it can leave the body and possibly cause pregnancy. It’s also called a vasectomy. This is a permanent form of birth control.

The surgeon first punctures or cuts a tiny hole in the scrotum. Then the tubes that carry sperm (the vas deferens) are tied, sealed with heat, or clipped to block them. This is outpatient surgery. The man goes home the same day.

How well does it prevent pregnancy?


A very effective form of birth control — one of the lowest pregnancy rates of all birth control methods.

Some women do get pregnant after their partners have a vasectomy. But the numbers are very small. About 1 out of 100 women protected by vasectomy get pregnant in a year of use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Vasectomy closes off the tubes that carry sperm, so sperm won’t mix with semen and cause pregnancy.

PROS

  • Very effective birth control. After tests confirm that there’s no sperm in semen, no need to think about birth control again. Failure rates are very low.
  • Sex can be spontaneous, with no worries about pregnancy.
  • It’s simpler, costs less, and has a lower failure rate than female sterilization. Hormone-free.
  • Vasectomy allows men to take responsibility for birth control.

CONS

  • Permanent. A man shouldn’t get a vasectomy unless he is sure he never wants to have another child.
  • Doesn’t take effect right away. You must use another form of birth control at first. Your doctor will tell you when to return for a test to confirm that there’s no sperm in your semen. It’s safe to stop using birth control after two tests show no sperm.

POSSIBLE CONCERNS

There’s a small risk of problems related to surgery. This includes:

  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Pain, which may be long-lasting in about 2 out of 100 men