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Unintended Pregnancy Prevention: Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a safe and highly effective method of birth control accepted by many couples throughout the world. Vasectomy, a form of permanent contraception, is also known as male sterilization. This procedure can prevent pregnancy by blocking the transport of sperm out of the testes. Those who seek a permanent form of birth control may want to consider the potential benefits of vasectomy. Some benefits of vasectomy include the following:

  • Simple outpatient surgical procedure
  • Short recovery period
  • Relatively inexpensive and often covered by insurance
  • Highly effective and safe

When considering a vasectomy, it’s important to understand that failures can occur. CDC research has estimated there is a probability of 11 per 1,000 procedures over 2 years; half of the failures occurred in the first three months after the vasectomy, and no failures occurred after 72 weeks.1 CDC research also examined regret among women whose partner underwent a vasectomy.2 In interviews with female partners of men who received vasectomies, CDC found that while most women did not regret their husband's vasectomies, the probability of regret over five years was about 6%. This is why it is important to know facts about this and other permanent forms of birth control before making a decision.

  1. Jamieson DJ, Costello C, Trussell J, Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Peterson HB. The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2004;103:848–850.
  2. Jamieson DJ, Kaufman SC, Costello C, Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Peterson HB. A comparison of women’s regret following vasectomy versus tubal sterilization. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2002;99:1073–1079.
Selected Resources

Vasectomy in the United States, 2002.
Vasectomy is a medical procedure intended as permanent birth control for men. An estimated 526,501 vasectomies were performed in the United States in 2002, representing a slight increase from previous data available. This article presents information gathered on various vasectomy procedures and protocols used. Journal of Urology 2006;176(1):232–236.

National Library of Medicine
Conduct a search for more information about vasectomy and other health topics.

We recommend that you review abstracts of our reports and other publications by using the resources of the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service. PubMed is a searchable database that provides abstracts of biomedical articles and reports. You may also be able to obtain full text articles (some services may require subscriptions to view full text articles).

Related Resources

Facts about Vasectomy Safety (National Institutes for Health)

Comprehensive Health Information for Men (National Women's Health Information Center)

CDC Men's Health Links

Search PubMed for articles on Vasectomy
This search is being conducted on PubMed an NLM/NIH service.

Page last reviewed: 5/7/09
Page last modified: 4/4/07
Content source: Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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