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Anthony J Viera, MD, MPH
Section Editor
Michael P O'Leary, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Wenliang Chen, MD, PhD


Vasectomy is the most effective mode of permanent male contraception and the only method that is widely available. The procedure involves interruption or occlusion of each vas deferens and is typically performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.

Worldwide, almost 43 million men underwent vasectomy in 2004 [1]. Slightly more than one-half million vasectomies were performed in the United States (US) in 2002 [2]. Data collected in the US in 2002 also showed that vasectomy was used by 5.7 percent of men ages 15 to 44, making it the fourth most commonly used contraceptive method, after condoms, oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation [3].

Approximately 79 percent of vasectomies in the US were performed by urologists, 13 percent by family physicians, and 8 percent by general surgeons. The cost of the procedure ranges from $350 to $1000, which is below costs associated with long-term pharmacologic contraception or female sterilization procedures [4].

Reported rates of successful infertility after vasectomy exceed 98 percent [5,6], though data are limited by lack of long-term follow-up. Most studies report outcomes only within two years of the procedure and might not account for subsequent failures due to later recanalization.

This topic discusses patient counseling, preoperative preparation, surgical techniques, postoperative care and complications, and reversal of vasectomy. The effect of vasectomy on the patient's overall health (eg, cardiovascular or prostate cancer) is also discussed.

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 16, 2017.
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