What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that makes a man sterile, or unable to get a woman pregnant. It is generally considered to be at least as effective as female sterilization and is simpler to perform, safer, and less costly.
It is used as a means of contraception in many parts of the world. A total of about 50 million men have had a vasectomy–a number that corresponds to roughly 5 percent of all married couples of reproductive age. In comparison, about 15 percent of couples rely on female sterilization for birth control.
Approximately half a million vasectomies are performed in the United States each year. About one out of six men over age 35 has been vasectomized, the prevalence increasing along with education and income. Among married couples in this country, only female sterilization and oral contraception are relied upon more often for family planning.
Vasectomy involves blocking the tubes through which sperm pass into the semen. Sperm are produced in a man’s testis and stored in an adjacent structure known as the epididymis. During sexual climax, the sperm move from the epididymis through a tube called the vas deferens and mix with other components of semen to form the ejaculate. All vasectomy techniques involve cutting or otherwise blocking both the left and right vas deferens, so the man’s ejaculate will no longer contain sperm, and he will not be able to make a woman pregnant.Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors