Dreamstime m 13366332



  • First Performed: 1823
  • Duration: Permanent*
  • Implementation: Surgical
  • Effectiveness: 99.85% (0.15/100)
  • Costs: $350-$1,000
  • STI Protection: None


The first vasectomy was performed in 1894 to relieve a swollen prostate gland. Before that, most men who were sterilized were done so by castration (and were meant to protect women who were promised to powerful men). In 1916 a Viennese surgeon began performing vasectomies for men in an attempt to restrict the production of hormones that cause aging. Much like tubal ligation for women, vasectomies had restrictions based on how many children/how old a man was. 

By 1960, only 45,000 men in America had voluntary vasectomies. By the early 1970s 750,000 men were having vasectomies a year in the U.S. Currently, more than four million men choose to have a vasectomy each year in the U.S.


Vasectomy is a procedure in which the vasa deferentia are cut, removing a path for sperm, or obstructed, disallowing sperm from exiting the body through the vasa deferntia (NIH, 2010). While sperm is no longer able to exit the body, semen will still discharge through the penis (NIH, 2010). If not cut, the vasa deferentia can be obstructed by either a clip, a device the clamps tightly, preventing the flow of sperm, or can be obstructed using injected plugs or cauterization (NIH, 2010).

Vasectomies are performed by cutting incisions into both sides of the scrotum (NIH, 2010). After which, the vasa deferentia is pulled outside of the scrotum (NIH, 2010). This then allows access to the vasa defeerntia, allowing the surgeon to cut, clamp, inject or cauterize the vasa deferenita (NIH, 2010). After the vasa defernita have been either cut or obstructed, they are placed back into the scrotum and the incisions are closed (NIH, 2010).

Vasectomies can be an appealing surgery to men because of the simplicity and safety of the procedures and as far safer than tubal ligation (NIH, 2010). In addition to being safer, vasectomies are also far less expensive than tubal ligation (NIH, 2010). Like tubal ligation, however, vasectomies are relatively inexpensive over time compared with other conraceptive methods, especially in individuals who have high sexual activity (NIH, 2010). Vasectomies also have a 0.1% failure rate (NIH, 2010). Like other surgical contraceptive means, vasectomies should be considered permanent (NIH, 2010).


After the procedure, if a cutting method was used, there is a small risk of the vas deferns healing itself, allowing sperm to reunite with the individual's semen; however, this is unlikely (NIH, 2010). While functions such as testosterone production, urination and erections are intact, a small portion of males have diminished sexual desires after undergoing a vasectomy (NIH, 2010). Complications may also arise in 5% of vasectomies, which may result in swelling, bleeding and/or pain (NIH, 2010).




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