Family PACT

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Sterilization for Men 

Birth Control
        for Men 

California Department of Health Services

There are two kinds of birth control, reversible
and permanent. Permanent birth control for men
is called vasectomy. Permanent birth control for
women is called tubal sterilization or a "tubal". This
pamphlet is about vasectomy. For more information
about tubal sterilization, ask for the pamphlet,

"Permanent Birth Control for Women."

The information about vasectomy in this pamphlet
will help you decide if permanent birth control
is right for you. Don't let anybody else make the
decision for you. It is your choice.

You may want permanent birth control if:

  • You are sure you do not want children in
    the future, even if your partner does.
  • Pregnancy would be dangerous to your
    partner's health.
  • You and your partner can't use or do not want
    to use other birth control methods.
  • You have a medical problem that you could
    pass on to your children.

How does vasectomy work?

A  man's testicles make sperm constantly. During
sex the sperm travel through two tiny tubes, called
 A manthe vas deferens.
As the sperm move
through the vas
deferens, they mix
with fluid to form
ejaculate (semen
or "cum"). After
ejaculation, if a
sperm joins with a
woman's egg, the
woman may get

During a vasectomy the vas deferens are blocked.
Afterwards, the man will still ejaculate but no sperm
will leave his body.

What happens to the sperm?

The testicles continue to make sperm, but the body
absorbs them.

How is vasectomy done?

This operation is done in a doctor's office or clinic.
First, medicine is used to numb a part of the
scrotum. Then the doctor will make one or two
small cuts in the skin of the scrotum to reach the
tubes that carry the sperm. After each vas deferens
is tied and cut, the skin is closed.

What are the risks?

Any operation can cause health problems-some
minor and some serious. Minor problems may
include soreness, swelling, or bruising of the
scrotum. These usually go away in a few days
without any treatment.

Serious health problems are rare. They include
infection or bleeding inside the scrotum.

What will I feel during the operation?

Most men say they feel a brief sharp stinging when
the local anesthetic is given, and not much more
once the anesthetic starts to work.

What should I expect after the operation?

You will go home a few hours after the operation.
You will want to take it easy for a few days. Your
doctor will give you instructions for follow-up care. 

Men's reproductive organsWhen can I start having sex again after the

You can start having sex as soon as you feel
comfortable, but you still need to use temporary
birth control until there are no more sperm in your

How soon will I be able to stop using other
kinds of birth control?

After the operation, you can still get a woman
pregnant if you have sex without birth control. Your
doctor will tell you when to have your semen tested.
You can stop using other birth control when there
are no more sperm in your semen. It usually takes
from 15-20 ejaculations to remove all the sperm.

How effective is vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a very effective and permanent way to
prevent pregnancy. However, there is a very small
chance that you could make a woman pregnant
even though the vasectomy was done correctly. Be
sure to have your semen tested after the operation. 

How will vasectomy affect me?

Vasectomy will NOT:

  • Change the ability to get an erection.
  • Change ejaculation.
  • Lower a man's sex drive or desire.
  • Make a man more feminine.
  • Change male hormones.
  • Cause a higher voice.
  • Protect against sexually transmitted infections
    (STIs) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Increase risk of heart disease.
  • Increase risk for prostate cancer.
  • Fix sexual, emotional or relationship problems.

Many men enjoy sex more after having a vasectomy
because they no longer have to worry about their
partner getting pregnant.

Some men may regret having had a vasectomy. You
should think carefully before having a vasectomy,
especially if you are young or do not have children.

Are there any health problems that can occur
after vasectomy?

Vasectomy has NOT been shown to cause cancer,
heart disease, or other unhealthy conditions.

Will vasectomy protect me from STIs and HIV?

No. Vasectomy will not protect you from STIs
like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes,
syphilis, or HIV. If you are at risk for STIs or HIV, you
should use a condom every time you have sex, even
if you have had a vasectomy.

Can vasectomy be undone?

Vasectomy should be considered permanent.
It is very difficult to reverse. Even though the
vas deferens can sometimes be reconnected or
sperm cells removed with a needle and syringe,
pregnancy may still not be possible.

Some men are interested in storing their sperm
in a sperm bank before having a vasectomy. You
should talk about this with your doctor.

Are there any forms I need to fill out?

You will need to sign a consent form before your
operation. If you have Medi-Cal, you must sign
the consent form at least 30 days before your
operation. You do not need permission from
your partner or anyone else. After you sign the
consent, you can still change your mind at any
time before the operation.

Is a vasectomy the same as castration?

No.  Vasectomy is simply blocking the tubes
that carry a man's sperm. The testicles are not

Are there other ways to prevent pregnancy?

Before you make up your mind about vasectomy,
you might also want to think about tubal
sterilization, which is permanent birth control
for women. Vasectomy is safer, simpler, and
less expensive than tubalA man

If you think you might want
children in the future, you
or your partner should use
a reversible method of birth
control. Some of the reversible
methods are as effective as
sterilization but when you
stop using them you are still able to cause
pregnancy. Your options for birth control are
listed in the table at the end of this pamphlet.

Vasectomy may be a good choice for you if:

  • You are sure you do not want children in the
    future, even if your partner does.
  • Pregnancy would be dangerous to your
    partner's health.
  • You cannot use or do not want to use other
    birth control methods.
  • You have a medical problem that you could
    pass onto your children.

Think carefully about your decision to use
permanent birth control! Vasectomy and tubal
sterilization are safe, effective, and provide
permanent protection from pregnancy. Talk
with your clinician and make sure all of your
questions have been answered.

Make up your own mind about what is right
for you.



Pregnancies in 100
couples in the first year
of typical use
Vasectomy  Less than one 
Tubal sterilization Less than one 
Intrauterine contraception  Less than one 
Contraceptive injection Less than one 
Birth control pills  5
Contraceptive patch or ring         2
Male Condoms  14
Diaphragm, cervical cap  20
Periodic abstinence  25
Withdrawal  19
Spermicides  26
No method  85

Additional copies of this brochure
may be obtained from the
Department of Health Care Services web site.