Permanent Contraception

Vasectomy

Failure Rate: 0.1%

Vasectomy is a very effective way to achieve permanent infertility in men. It involves severing the vas, the tubes which deliver the sperm from the testes to the penis, through an incision in the scrotum. This procedure is usually performed in a doctor's office using local anesthetic and takes less than thirty minutes. Recovery may involve some pain or discomfort and scrotal discoloring for several days after the operation.

The operation is not effective immediately. It may take several months (15-20 ejaculations) before the sperm is cleared from the tubes. Some men may regret their decision to become sterilized, especially men under the age of 30, those who have no children, or those who later decide they would like more children after a remarriage or death of child. Vasectomy should be considered permanent. Reversals are difficult, expensive and results are not guaranteed. Although sperm can be found in the ejaculate of most men who have their vasectomies reversed, only 50% are successful at fathering children, most likely due to the development of sperm antibodies.

Vasectomy has a failure rate of only 0.1%. Unplanned pregnancies resulting after vasectomy is actually higher as the reported failure rate does not include couples who became pregnant as a result of intercourse after sterilization but before all sperm had been cleared from the ejaculate. This procedure can also fail due to surgical error, because the man had an extra set of vas (the tubes which transport the sperm), or even rarely spontaneous regeneration of the vas.

Side Effects and Health Risks

Vasectomy appears to be a safe procedure, with risks no greater than those found with any of the contraceptive options for women. A weak link between vasectomy and prostate cancer has been documented but not proven. Only 2-3% of men have chronic pain after vasectomy and regret the procedure due to the pain.

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