Ballpark Estimate: $500 to $1,000
If you’re exploring different methods of birth control, you may want to learn more about having a vasectomy. This is an easy male sterilization procedure that prevents pregnancy. If you’re weighing this option, keep in mind that it is permanent, so this is only for people who are truly sure they won’t want to have a baby in the future.
A Permanent Approach
Each year, about half a million American men select to undergo a vasectomy. But while most of them share the same goal, to have sex without risk of pregnancy, the actual surgical method used to achieve this can vary.
If you understand the logistics of how the male body works, you probably know that sperm are created in a male’s testicles and then travel through the vas deferens (the male tubes) and into the semen, which is how they are transferred when a man ejaculates during intercourse. A vasectomy works by preventing the sperm from being released in this way and instead allows them to remain in the body, where they are reabsorbed and can’t lead to fertilization.
Options That Exist
Here are some of the vasectomy options that exist:
This is the traditional procedure used to sterilize a man. It’s typically performed in a doctor’s office or ambulatory center. The specialist usually numbs the patient’s private area with an anesthetic, then uses a scalpel to create incisions in a strategic entry point that will allow him to locate the vas deferens. Once he’s accessed these tubes, they are then cut and tied, or clipped, shut. Following this alteration, the incision is stitched to allow it to heal completely.
No Scalpel Vasectomy
This is a newer technique (also using a local anesthetic) that works in a similar way but is less invasive. Instead of using a scalpel, it relies on special instruments that are used to make a tiny incision in the skin in order to access the vas deferens and cut and clip them. Some physicians believe that this alternative method avoids bruising, causes less discomfort, and has faster recovery. As a result, many doctors prefer using this method today.
In both the traditional and no scalpel technique, your doctor may use tiny clips (smaller than a fingernail) made of titanium, plastic, or other materials to block off your scrotum rather than tying it. The clip remains in place when the incision is closed. Using a clip can make the process a little quicker and will give the same end result.
What to Expect
The process of having a vasectomy performed is usually quite quick. It should take about 30 minutes or less, depending on the logistics. You could experience some minor discomfort afterwards, but it usually goes away within a week or two. Your doctor will probably restrict strenuous activity and heavy lifting for 24 to 48 hours after the vasectomy, in order to allow the healing process to begin.
It’s important to note that sterility from the vasectomy won’t be experienced right away. This is because the procedure prevents any new sperm from traveling through the tubes, it doesn’t remove those sperm that currently are already contained in the vas deferens. It can take about 15 or 20 ejaculations in order to release them all. As a result, if you’re sexually active during the next three months, you’ll need to rely on other types of birth control until your semen samples contain no sperm. Most doctors will want two semen samples that are sperm-free before considering the vasectomy a success.
Things to Consider
Some men worry that having a vasectomy could affect their enjoyment of sex or their ability to perform. The experts stress that neither is the case. The act of intercourse will still remain exactly the same for both partners after undergoing a vasectomy. The only change will be that your sperm will no longer be released in your semen.
How to Find a Surgeon
If you have a primary care doctor, you can talk to him about the pros and cons of having a vasectomy. He can talk to you about what to expect and can also help you to determine if this is a good fit for your situation. If so, he may refer you to a surgeon/urologist who performs this technique.
If you prefer, you can locate surgeon yourself by doing a search online or looking in the yellow pages. There are also online resources, such as Vasectomy.com and Vascenter.com. These offer searchable directories of specialists so you find a reputable medical expert in your area. You can also contact your local Planned Parenthood office or a local health clinic, since they often have doctors who perform vasectomies on staff or can refer you to a specialist if needed. Finally, to learn more about vasectomy, you can visit and Vasectomy Information.
While a vasectomy is a simple procedure and usually does not come with many risks, one important point you should know is you’ll need to steer clear of aspirin and ibuprofen products for several weeks before, and also after, the procedure. These medications serve as blood thinners and as a result can cause or increase bleeding. Your doctor may also recommend that you bring a jock strap to support the sensitive area when the procedure is completed. You should expect to be somewhat sore for about a few weeks. If you experience discomfort, an ice pack may bring you relief.
What It Costs
If you’re considering having a vasectomy, what you can expect to spend will depend on the technique you prefer, the expertise of the doctor you select, and the part of the country in which you live.
In general, the price for a vasectomy costs between about $500 and $1,000. This usually includes the follow-up sperm testing and the clips (if used).
Many health insurance companies will cover some, or all, of the cost of the vasectomy. If your procedure isn’t covered, and the price is a problem for you, Planned Parenthood and some types of community health clinics may offer a sliding scale to make a vasectomy more affordable for you.
Food for Thought
Most people who have completed their families, or have chosen not to have children, find that having a vasectomy is a practical decision. Just keep in mind that since it’s also a permanent procedure, if you choose this route and in the future find that your situation changes, you could have some regrets. That’s why some men decide to have some of their sperm frozen in a sperm bank just in case. You should also know that in some cases, a vasectomy could be reversed if you change your mind. However, there’s no guarantee that the reversal will work, so you can’t completely count on this possibility.
A Word of Warning
It’s also quite important to note that while a vasectomy avoids pregnancy, it doesn’t prevent the spread of any sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, if there is any risk you could contract an STD during intercourse (or pass one on to someone else). Therefore, you will still need to take the appropriate protective steps.