A vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed on adult males in which the vasa deferentia (tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the seminal vesicles) are cut, tied, cauterized (burned or seared), or otherwise interrupted. The semen no longer contains sperm after the tubes are cut, so conception cannot occur. The testicles continue to produce sperm, but they die and are absorbed by the body.
The purpose of the vasectomy is to provide reliable contraception. Research indicates that the level of effectiveness is 99.6%. Vasectomy is the most reliable method of contraception and has fewer complications and a faster recovery time than female sterilization methods.
The cost of a vasectomy ranges between $400 and $550 in most parts of the United States. Some insurance plans will cover the cost of the procedure.
Approximately 500,000 vasectomies are performed annually in the United States. About one out of every six men over the age of 35 has had a vasectomy. Higher vasectomy rates are associated with higher levels of education and income.
Vasectomies are often performed in the doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic using local anesthesia. The area around the patient’s scrotum (the sac containing the testicles that produce sperm) will be shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic solution to reduce the chance of infection. A small incision is made into the scrotum. Each of the vasa deferentia (one from each testicle) is tied in two places with nonabsorbable (permanent) sutures and the tube is severed between the ties. The ends may be cauterized (burned or seared) to decrease the chance that they will leak or grow back together.