What is a vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a simple, safe procedure designed to make a man permanently sterile, or unable to father a child. A total of about 50 million men have had a vasectomy—approximately 5 percent of all married men of reproductive age.

An advanced technique to anesthetize (numb) the scrotum is used, and patients have less discomfort, fewer complications, and a quicker recovery.

Is a vasectomy 100 percent effective?

Other than total abstinence, no method of birth control is 100 percent effective. In rare cases after a vasectomy, it is possible for sperm to find its way across the void between the two blocked ends of the vas deferens. This generally occurs within the first few months after a vasectomy. However, the failure rate of vasectomy is very low. It has been used for many years as a means of sterilization and has a long track record as a safe and effective method of contraception.

If dead or live sperm continue to appear in the semen samples, or if sperm are discovered after a period of sterility, a repeat vasectomy will be necessary. Fortunately, this only happens approximately once in every 1,000 cases, a failure rate far less than for any other form of birth control.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/07/2019.


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