How Is A Vasectomy Performed?

The Process Behind This Male Sterilization Procedure

Biomedical illustration of a vasectomy
What hapens during a vasectomy procedure?. Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

How is a vasectomy operation performed? What exactly does the procedure entail?


A vasectomy is intended to prevent fertility in males. But though the result is not easily reversible, the procedure itself does not require hospitalization. Rather, it is simple enough to be completed within 30 minutes, after which the patient can then be accompanied home after a recovery time of about one hour.


Before going in for a vasectomy, it is suggested that you arrange for a friend of family member to accompany you in case you feel any discomfort after the procedure and need someone to drive you home. You should also shower the day of the surgery, and perhaps even shave your scrotum. Some doctors also recommend that you bring a jockstrap or a pair of snug cotton briefs to the hospital. Eat lightly beforehand.

You should also avoid taking certain medications before your procedure (ask your doctor for a list), as these medications can cause bleeding.

The Procedure

Upon arrival, a local anesthetic will be administered to your scrotum prior to the operation. After the anesthesia has taken effect, the vas deferens (the part of the male reproductive system that carries your sperm to the ejaculatory ducts) will then be operated on, one at a time.

During this operation, a scalpel will be used to make two small incisions, one on either side of the scrotum. This provides access to the vas deferens, so they can be brought to the surface for surgical removal. They will then be cut out, and at least one side will be sealed by suturing, cauterization, or clamping. All done!


This is the most common method of performing of vasectomy, though there are other variations on this procedure. One such variation is the no-scalpel vasectomy, during which a special surgical tool is used to puncture (rather than cut) the skin. Via this smaller opening, both tubes are tied off, cauterized, or blocked. This procedure does not require any sutures. This is a popular option among men who would prefer to avoid the use of a scalpel.

Still other options exist, including the use of no-needle anesthesia, an open-ended vasectomy, or vas irrigation (a process by which sterile water or some other fluid that kills sperm is injected into the vas deferens).

The intended result of a vasectomy, however, is always the same. The man becomes sterile by keeping his sperm out of the seminal fluid. While the sperm continues to be produced in the testes, they are then absorbed into the body with no ill effects. What this means is that you will still ejaculate fluid as before but, because there is no longer sperm in your ejaculate, there is no danger of an unwanted pregnancy.


You doctor will give you instructions on how to care for your vasectomy. These usually include keeping the area clean. Your doctor will let you know when it is okay to get the area wet. You should watch for any signs of infection such as a fever, redness or tenderness near your incision.

Following your vasectomy you will need to use backup contraception for a period of time, usually a certain number of ejaculations. Since half of failed vasectomy procedures (failure to prevent pregnancy) occur in the first three months, it's important to follow these guidelines closely. The World Health Organization recommends using a backup form of birth control for the first three months after the procedure.

Possible Complications and Side Effects

Like any surgical procedure, there is a small risk of complications and side effects of a vasectomy. Some of these include:

  • Vasectomy failure - The failure rate of a vasectomy (failure to prevent pregnancy) has been stated to be between 0.2 percent and as high as 5 percent. According to the CDC, the average probability of failure is 11 out of 1000 procedures over a period of two years. Half of these failures occur in the first three months.
  • Granulomas - An uncommon reaction may occur in which a small lump develops due to leakage of sperm where the incision occurs in the vas deferens. This may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications or a vasectomy reversal if it persists.
  • Epididymitis - Swelling of the epididymis may occur but usually resolves within one week.
  • Erectile dysfunction - Having a vasectomy does not reduce sex drive. Sperm account for only one percent of ejaculate volume, so the volume won't appear to change. On occasion, changes in sexual function may occur, but these are primarily psychological in nature and not related to physical changes from the vasectomy.
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