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Alternative Names Return to topSterilization surgery – male; No-scalpel vasectomy; NSV
Definition Return to top
A vasectomy is surgery to cut the vas deferens, the tubes that carry a man’s sperm from his scrotum to his urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries sperm and urine out of the penis. After a vasectomy, sperm cannot move out of the testes. A man who has had a successful vasectomy cannot make a woman pregnant.
Description Return to top
Vasectomy is usually done in the surgeon's office using local anesthesia. You will be awake but not feel any pain.
You may have a vasectomy without an incision. This is called a no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV).
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Vasectomy may be recommended for adult men who are sure they want to prevent future pregnancies. A vasectomy makes a man sterile (unable to get a woman pregnant). It does NOT prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
A vasectomy is not recommended as a short-term form of birth control. The procedure to reverse a vasectomy is a much more complicated operation.
Vasectomy may be a good choice for men who:
Vasectomy may not be a good choice for men who:
Risks Return to top
There is no serious risk to vasectomy. Your semen will be tested in the months after the operation to make sure it does not contain sperm.
Very rarely, the vas deferens can grow back together again. If this happens, sperm can mix with semen. This would make it possible for you to make a woman pregnant.
Before the Procedure Return to top
Two weeks before your vasectomy, tell your doctor all of the medicines, even ones you bought without a prescription, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are taking. You may need to limit or stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and other medicines that affect blood clotting for 10 days before your surgery.
On the day of your surgery, wear loose, comfortable clothes. Clean your scrotum area well. Take the medicines your doctor told you take.
Bring a scrotal support with you to the surgery.
After the Procedure Return to top
You should be able to return home as soon as the procedure is done. You can return to work the next day if you do not do heavy physical work. Most men return to work within 2 to 3 days. You should be able to return to your normal physical activities in 3 to 7 days. It is normal to have some swelling and bruising of the scrotum after the procedure. It should go away within 2 weeks.
You should wear a scrotal support for 3 to 4 days after the procedure. You can use an ice pack to prevent or reduce swelling. Pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), may help relieve discomfort. You can have sexual intercourse as soon as you feel ready, usually about a week after the surgery.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Vasectomy does not affect a man's ability to have an erection or orgasm, or ejaculate semen.
Your sperm count gradually decreases after a vasectomy. After about 3 months, sperm are no longer present in the semen. You must continue to use birth control to prevent pregnancy until your semen sample is totally free of sperm.
Most men are satisfied with vasectomy. Most couples enjoy not having to use birth control.
References Return to top
Cook LA, Pun A, van Vliet H, Gallo MF, Lopez LM. Scalpel versus no-scalpel incision for vasectomy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):CD004112.
Dassow P, Bennett JM. Vasectomy: an update. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Dec 15;74(12):2069-74.
Peterson HB. Sterilization. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jan;111(1):189-203.Update Date: 2/7/2009 Updated by: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.