Sterilization – What Is a Vasectomy?

Sterilization is the ultimate method of birth control. If you’re sure that you wish to have no more children, sterilization is completely safe and reliable. Male sterilization by vasectomy (cutting or blocking the tubes that transport sperm) is a simple surgical outpatient procedure. Vasectomy cost is reasonable and is covered by most insurance plans. Castration, the removal of the testes is another form of sterilization, only performed because of a medical condition.

Performed under local anesthesia, a vasectomy takes about 30 minutes. An incision is made in the scrotum. The vas deferens are cut and the ends are surgically closed with clips or tubing. The incision is closed with stitches that will be absorbed as it heals.

Sexual intercourse can be resumed a few days after the procedure; however, it can take an average of six weeks or more for the semen to be completely free of sperm. It’s recommended that a semen examination be done after a vasectomy to determine if sterility was achieved.


A reversal of a vasectomy, a vasostomy, reconnects the severed ends of the vas deferens to reestablish the flow of sperm. This procedure is difficult and costly and is not usually covered by insurance plans. The average success rate is about 50 percent. The sooner the vasostomy is performed after the original vasectomy, the higher the rate of success.

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