Male Sterilization: Understanding the Major Types of Vasectomy

Male Sterilization: Understanding the Major Types of Vasectomy

About 500,000 vasectomies are performed in the US every year. The procedure is a safe and effective form of birth control with a nearly 100% long-term success rate.

Although vasectomies are far from new, there still seems to be a lot of mystery around what the procedure entails, what the costs are, and whether or not reversal is possible.

In this article, we’ll shed some light on the different types of vasectomy and unpack some of the most common questions around the surgery.

What Are the Different Types of Vasectomy Procedures?

The two main types of vasectomy are conventional vasectomy and no-scalpel vasectomy. Both procedures get the job done, but are achieved through different steps.

Conventional Vasectomy

As the name implies, this form of vasectomy is the more traditional procedure of the two and is also slightly more invasive.

Here’s how it works: to reach the vas deferens (the tube that transports sperm), a surgeon will make two cuts in the skin of the scrotum. Once accessed, the vas deferens will be cut and a small piece of it may be removed.

From there, the urologist may tie the ends of the vas deferens and then use stitches to close up the incisions made on the scrotum.

Although it may sound intimidating, the process is a relatively quick one; typically only lasting 20-30 minutes.

Local anesthesia is usually offered, but if you’re particularly nervous about the surgery, it may be a good idea to opt for full sedation.

While it is possible to experience mild pain and discomfort after having a conventional vasectomy performed, you can find comfort in the fact that the average recovery time is less than a week.

No-Scalpel Vasectomy

The no-scalpel method was developed in China in 1974 as an alternative to the traditional vasectomy procedure.

This method was developed in response to the growing anxiety that men had around the surgery and the potential pain involved.

With the no-scalpel method, urologists create a small hole in the scrotum that is large enough to pull the vas deferens through. The vas deferens are then cut and seared, and able to slip back through the hole created.

The puncture hole created during this procedure is so minor that stitches aren’t even necessary. In fact, the minimal scarring involved in the no-scalpel vasectomy is one of the many reasons for its growing popularity.

The risk of bleeding and other complications is also lower compared to the conventional method.

Which Procedure Is Right for Me?

Ultimately, the vasectomy procedure you choose to move forward with is completely up to you. It is, however, important to consider factors like your pain threshold, cost, recovery time and side effects.


According to Planned Parenthood, the average cost of a vasectomy of any type is about $1,000. This rate can also include consultations and follow-up visits.

If you have health insurance, your procedure may be either completely or partially covered.


When it comes to deciding between the two methods, it is important to remember that they are both equal in that they are both effective. The no-scalpel procedure does, however, tend to get more praise for its minimalism.

Compared to the conventional vasectomy, the no-scalpel method is less invasive. The faint-of-heart will gravitate towards it as there is also less bleeding involved and no sutures required.

Recovery and Side Effects

Being an outpatient procedure, you will get to go home after your surgery, regardless of the type of vasectomy you get.

Although side effects of the surgery are rare, the use of a needle in the traditional operation brings forward the risk of swelling and infection. Irritation at the site can prolong the journey to recovery.

On the other hand, any tenderness or discomfort felt as a result of the no-scalpel operation can be easily tended to with the help of an ice pack or over-the-counter pain relievers.

Can a Vasectomy Be Reversed?

Here’s the thing; people change their minds all the time. You and your partner may change your stance on adding new members to your family, or perhaps a new relationship may have triggered your change of heart altogether.

In a nutshell; yes, vasectomies can be reversed. Although this is possible, the time between the vasectomy and the reversal must be closely considered.

Research suggests that reversals completed within the first three years of a vasectomy are more likely to be effective. It is still possible, however, to have a successful reversal several years after vasectomy – even up to 20 years later.

After a vasectomy reversal, you have a 30-70% chance of getting your partner pregnant. Factors like your age, your partner’s age, and both you and your partner’s fertility potential have a role to play in those figures.

Similar to the initial procedure, a reversal is quickly done, with patients able to return home after about 30-60 minutes.

The process calls for the re-connecting of the vas deferens. Before that can happen, though, the vas deferens must be cut open to confirm that there are sperm cells present.

A few months after your reversal, your doctor will request a semen analysis to observe if sperm are flowing. The procedure’s success is determined by your partner’s ability to get pregnant.

If pregnancy does not occur within 6 months to 1 year, it is advisable to follow up with your doctor.

Vasectomy reversals can be puzzling at first. Click here to learn more about the ins and outs of the procedure.

Next Steps

Deciding to get a vasectomy is no small feat. The procedure is quick, but the results are life-changing.

It’s important to do your research ahead of time to ensure that you not only feel ready to go through with the operation, but also know exactly how it works.

In this article, we’ve outlined the two main types of vasectomy and the factors that you should consider before choosing one of the two.

Before moving forward, be sure to speak with your partner to ensure that you are on the same page about the decision, and have your urologist walk you through how to prepare for the procedure and what you can expect after it.

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