A vasectomy is a contraceptive method for men that consists of cutting or blocking the vas deferens; the tubes that carry sperm from the testes. It is similar to a tubal ligation that is performed on women, although it is an easier procedure since it can be done in the office setting and without general anesthesia. A urologist is the physician who typically performs this type of surgery.
A vasectomy is considered a safe and effective surgical procedure that can be performed under local anesthesia. Following surgery, other forms of contraception must be used for approximately three to six months, until a semen analysis confirms the absence of sperm.
However, as with any surgery, it is important to note that it is not completely free of complications. In some cases, for example, the operation may need to be repeated. Men who are considering vasectomy should consider sterilization permanent. However, from 50 to 70 percent of those in whom the operation is reversed are fertile. The success rate may depend on the length of time between vasectomy and the reversal procedure. Generally, the longer after vasectomy, the lower the chance of a return of normal fertility.
There had been concern that the risk of testicular and prostate cancer may be increased in men who have had a vasectomy, but this does not appear to be the case.