Vasectomies - also known as male sterilization procedures - usually cost between $300 and $3,000. This one-time out-of-pocket cost may vary depending on your health insurance plan, where you live, the doctor’s office performing the procedure, and whether or not the surgery is an inpatient or outpatient procedure.
The cost of a vasectomy procedure usually covers:
- Initial consultations with a health care provider
- The surgical procedure & anesthesia
- Follow-up visits with your health care provider (including semen analysis)
Under the Affordable Care Act, because vasectomies are categorized as a form of birth control/ family planning, these procedures are often covered by health insurance companies with minor copay costs. However, depending on your health care plan, or your location, these costs may vary. Before you book a vasectomy procedure, talk to your health care provider and health insurance provider to make an informed decision about whether or not this form of contraception makes financial sense for you.
What is a vasectomy?
Vasectomy (or male sterilization) is a minor contraceptive surgery performed as a method of male birth control and family planning. These procedures are commonly performed at a urology clinic or primary care clinic as outpatient operations. This surgery requires anesthesia, but the patient rarely needs to be completely sedated - meaning you can go home shortly after the operation.
The vas deferens, or the small tube that carries sperm from the scrotum, is cut or blocked off. This way, sperm cannot leave the body through semen. There are two methods of vasectomy: the incision method and the no-cut (no-scalpel) method. Vasectomies are permanent. In some cases, a vasectomy can be reversed (vasectomy reversal), but the cost of this procedure is considerably more expensive than the first operation. A vasectomy is a method of birth control, but will not protect against sexually transmitted infections/ diseases (STDs).
What are the reasons to get a vasectomy?
Vasectomies are one of the most effective methods of birth control available. A vasectomy has nearly a 100% success rate in preventing pregnancy. The surgery is minor and carries a low risk of complications or side effects. A vasectomy usually costs less than the female sterilization (tubal ligation) procedure for women and carries less risk of complications. Most vasectomies are one-time costs and as safe a form of birth control as there is. Concerns over sex-drive loss, permanent damage, and cancers are largely unfounded. However, because vasectomies are permanent, you should be 100% sure that you do not want to father a child in the future.
How are vasectomies done?
Vasectomies can be done in one of two ways: there’s the incision method or the no-scalpel vasectomy. These surgeries are usually performed in your urologist’s office and usually take about 30 minutes. Both procedures result in the cutting of the vas deferens, or the tubes that carry sperm from the scrotum to the semen.
The different types of vasectomy procedures are detailed below:
- Conventional Vasectomy
This method uses small cuts in the vas deferens to stop sperm from moving from the testicles to the urethra. Your urologist will first numb the scrotum with a local anesthetic. Then, 1 or 2 small cuts are made in the skin of the scrotum to reach the vas deferens. There are usually two vas deferens tubes, one for each testicle. The doctor performing the vasectomy will cut the vas deferens tubes, leaving a small gap in the tube. This may be done with one cut or two. Next, the vas deferens is sealed with stitches or searing, to help the cut heal. In some cases, the cuts may be allowed to close on their own. Once the vas deferens have been cut, sperm can no longer reach semen and is unable to be ejaculated from the body. Instead, the body absorbs the sperm, which is harmless.
- No-Scalpel Vasectomy
A no-scalpel vasectomy requires more training and skill than the conventional method but has been known to reduce the risk of hematomas, bleeding, bruising, and pain. Again, local anesthesia is used to reduce sensation and pain. The doctor performing the no-scalpel vasectomy feels for the vas tubes under the skin of the scrotum. A clamp is used to hold the vas in place. A small hole is made in the skin of the scrotum and then is stretched out. The vas deferens are then gently lifted out of the scrotum, cut, tied, and placed back in the scrotum.
The conventional vasectomy uses small cuts in the scrotum to reach the vas, whereas the no-scalpel method uses a sharp, forceps-like tool to make a small puncture in the scrotum. Both ways are very minor, low-risk surgeries. The no-scalpel method leads to 5x fewer infections, and hematomas (blood clots that cause swelling). It is also the quicker, and less painful means of getting a vasectomy.
How does the cost of a vasectomy compare to other types of birth control?
Vasectomies are a form of birth control with a very low failure rate - meaning that they are one of the most effective methods of preventing unplanned pregnancy. In addition, a vasectomy is a permanent one-time surgery. Because of this, vasectomies are among the most cost-effective forms of birth control - despite their higher up-front cost. Other forms of birth control - such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or birth control pills - require replacement or refilling. Ultimately, these costs will end up costing you more than the one-time expense of a vasectomy.
Additionally, the upfront cost of a vasectomy is considerably less than female sterilization (a procedure known as tubal ligation). According to Planned Parenthood, a vasectomy is one of the safest and most cost-effective forms of birth control. However, it is a permanent procedure. Health insurance plans may not cover vasectomy reversals, and that procedure is considerably more expensive than the initial operation. Because of this, you should consult with your partner and a primary care provider before undergoing the operation.
What are common misleading claims about vasectomies?
There are several claims/ concerns about the risks of vasectomies that are unfounded or untrue. Among these are:
- Vasectomies affect sex-drive. Vasectomies do not cause erectile dysfunction, loss of sex drive, or affect the ability to ejaculate. The ejaculate produced from sexual intercourse or sexual activity is made up of semen without sperm. Because the vas deferens have been cut, sperm is unable to travel from the testes to semen and is absorbed into the body, which is harmless.
- Vasectomies lead to certain cancers. Per the Mayo Clinic, there’s no proven link between vasectomy and the risk of prostate cancer or testicular cancer.
- Vasectomy is painful. While there may be discomfort, bleeding, and mild pain after a vasectomy, there should be no severe or lingering pain from the surgery. Talk to your doctor if you have lasting pain from a vasectomy, as this may be a sign of infection. If you have a fever, it is also recommended that you call your doctor’s office, as this may also be a sign of infection.
What kind of recovery should I expect after a vasectomy?
After your operation, you may experience some discomfort, soreness, and slight swelling. These effects usually disappear in a few days. If pain, bleeding, or oozing from the wound continues after a few days, call your doctor. These may be signs of an infection or more serious complications.
Most vasectomy surgeries take about 30 minutes, with the patient able to leave the clinic after the operation. The Mayo Clinic recommends a few items for recovery:
- Bring a jockstrap to the clinic to use for support after surgery.
- Apply ice packs to the scrotum for a few days after surgery.
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, if recommended by your doctor.
- Avoid activity for at least 24 hours after surgery. Avoid heavy lifting or sports for a week or so.
- Avoid sexual activity for several days after surgery.