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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Male Sterilization: Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that is done to make a man sterile (unable to father children). A vasectomy works by cutting or blocking the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm away from the testicles. Once the vas deferens is cut or blocked, sperm cannot pass out of the body.

After a vasectomy, a man can continue to have normal sexual intercourse with ejaculation of semen, but this sperm-free semen cannot make his sexual partner pregnant.

Vasectomy is extremely effective in preventing pregnancy. The likelihood of getting pregnant after the procedure is less than 2 in 1000, or 0.1 percent. It is more effective than tubal ligation in women, and is less expensive as well.

Advantages

  • Vasectomy can be performed in a medical office under local anesthesia.
  • The procedure is relatively quick and easy.
  • Two months after the procedure, couples no longer have to use other birth-control methods to prevent pregnancy.

Disadvantages

  • Vasectomy is a permanent method of birth control.
  • Latex condoms still need to be used to decrease the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Last updated July 20, 2010




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