Male Birth Control

What Men Need To Know About Vasectomy Costs, Recovery, And More

Here are some fast facts about the sterilization procedure.

by Alison Zeidman
Originally Published: 
A man sitting in a hospital gown before getting a vasectomy

So, you’re considering a vasectomy. Maybe it’s because you’ve decided that your family is the size it needs to be and you don’t want any more children. Or maybe there were pregnancy complications that arose during the birth of your last child, and, to avoid such outcomes again, the procedure is needed. In any case, a vasectomy, or the surgical cutting of the vas deferens — the tube that carries sperm from the testicles and out into the world — is a common procedure. Still, it’s one that sends chills up any man’s spine — or nether region. (“You’re going to cut what?”) So, what do you need to know about vasectomy cost, recovery, and side effects? Here are some fast facts.

What’s a Vasectomy? How Does It Work?

A vasectomy isn’t major surgery, but it’s not like getting a cavity filled, either. It’s a sterilization procedure that cuts or blocks the vasa deferentia, the tubes in your testicles that transport your swimmers (again, jargon for sperm). No swimmers, no baby. You’ll still release semen when you orgasm, but there won’t be enough sperm in it to get your partner pregnant.

What Types of Vasectomies Are There?

So, there are two types of vasectomies: incision and non-incision.

The incision procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes. A patient is put under, and the doctor makes a small cut on each of side of the scrotum, or one straight down the middle. They go in and remove a small section of each vas deferens, and the tubes are either tied off (just with a knot — no fancy balloon animal-type stuff), blocked with surgical clips, or cauterized with an electric current. The latter was the vasectomy method practiced for years, and probably the reason so many men are freaked out by the idea of getting one.

A non-incision vasectomy is a faster procedure and doesn’t require the patient to be put under. Developed in China in 1974, it’s becoming the more standard method. Doctors makes a single tiny puncture to reach both tubes. From there, it’s all pretty much the same. Other advantages of non-incision: You won’t need stitches, there’s reduced risk of infection or bruising, and you can recover quicker.

What Are Vasectomy Side Effects?

A vasectomy is a fairly low-risk procedure. Infection occurs in 0.2% to 1.5% of cases and is usually localized, and bruising occurs in 4% to 22% of cases but more likely on the lower end, according to a 2021 study. About 1% to 2% of people who get a vasectomy develop postvasectomy pain syndrome, which is long-term scrotum pain that can affect sex.

What Is Vasectomy Recovery Like?

After a standard vasectomy procedure, you’ll need to avoid strenuous exercise for about a week. But most guys who are already healthy are fine getting back to work after a few days. At most, you might need a week or so of rest while you ice your balls and pop a couple of over-the-counter painkillers. Or, you can use your vasectomy as an excuse to catch all of March Madness — which is actually a thing.

Can You Still Orgasm After a Vasectomy?

Most men are able to start having sex again in about a week after the procedure, and in some cases even sooner. And cutting off the vas deferens doesn’t mean a puff of smoke comes out during climax. Sperm only makes up a small percentage of your seminal fluid. Your body still produces it, and your testicles still produce the goods. It’s just that instead of passing sperm through the vas deferens to be blended with the fluid to become semen, it’s just absorbed back into your body. The semen comes out like normal.

Is a Vasectomy the Best Option?

According to the World Health Organization, vasectomies are safer, simpler, and about half the cost of female sterilization procedures. And recently experts debunked the idea that it may increase your chance of prostate cancer.

So until the FDA approves a male birth control pill, a vasectomy is probably your best bet to guarantee your wife won’t get pregnant. If you’re not 100% certain you’re done having kids, you should probably hold off. You can opt for a vasectomy reversal in some cases, but there are no guarantees — except that it’ll be difficult and expensive. Just ask Michael Scott.

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