The vas deferens are thin muscular tubes that carry sperm from each testicle to the urethra.
Vasectomy is the surgical division of the vas deferens. Vasectomy prevents sperm from being released into semen during ejaculation, thus preventing pregnancy. Vasectomy may be recommended for adult men who are certain that they wish to prevent future pregnancies (permanent sterilization). Vasectomy is not recommended as a temporary or reversible procedure. Vasectomy is usually done in the surgeon's office while the patient is awake but pain-free (using local anesthesia). A small incision is made in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis.
The tubes (vas deferens) are tied off and cut apart. The skin incision is stitched closed. The patient is able to return home immediately. The surgeon will usually check a sperm sample a few weeks after the vasectomy, to ensure that no sperm are present in the semen.
Vasectomy is a simple, painless procedure that is very effective in preventing pregnancy. Men usually have no side effects from vasectomy, and no change in sexual performance or function.
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.