Skip to main content

How Does a Vasectomy Work: Your No-Frills Guide to Getting Snipped

vasectomy guide
Shameer PK/Getty Images

All of us have gone to great measures to protect the family jewels. If we were athletes growing up, especially playing those contact sports like baseball and football, we likely wore a jockstrap and cup for protection. Even for those less athletic, it’s still a natural reaction to always cover the crotch to prevent unexpected contact. As a result, just the idea of having a scalpel coming anywhere near our jewel can have us cringing in fear. Vasectomies, for some, can be like that other “V” word (i.e Voldemort) in the Harry Potter series, that name that shall not be mentioned.

While we each have our own personal feelings and opinions about getting snipped, we felt it pertinent to reach out to an expert to dispel the myths around vasectomies while providing factual information for those who have reached a stage in life where it may make sense.

Dr. R. Charles Welliver Jr., MD is the Director of Men’s Health and Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Urology at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. “Vasectomies are among the most effective form of permanent birth control and are generally less invasive than other methods of permanent sterilization,” explains Dr. Welliver.

Aside from condom usage, the burden of preventing unwanted pregnancies has typically fallen on women in the form of hormonal methods (pills, vaginal rings, patch, injections, and implants), intrauterine devices, and barrier methods (diaphragm). All of these have side effects, some being potentially dangerous. The most permanent form of birth control for women is similar to the vasectomy, in which the woman’s “tubes are tied” (tubal ligation). In contrast to a vasectomy, though, tubal ligation is a more invasive procedure, costs significantly more, and has a longer recovery period.

How Does a Vasectomy Work?

Many of us may consider ourselves masters in the bedroom, but how many really understand the anatomy of sperm production and ejaculation? Here’s a quick summary of where sperm is produced and how its transport is prevented after the procedure.

Sperm cells are produced in the testes (balls). They are stored in the epididymis (a tube) until they mature and are either called into action or reabsorbed into the body. From the epididymis, the sperm cells make their way down to another tube called the vas deferens. During an orgasm, sperm cells combine with seminal fluid secreted by the prostate and other sex glands before being ejaculated through the urethra.

vasectomy guide cut
Tomward87/Getty Images

During a vasectomy, a small incision (or two) is made in the scrotum (sack) and the vas deferens are retrieved through these incisions. This tube is cut and each end is either clipped shut or tied off.

Once the procedure is complete, some sperm cells can still reside in the vas deferens. Most experts agree that it can take 20 ejaculations (or roughly three months) to clear any residual sperm cells from the tubes, and sterility can only be validated by a semen analysis.

Vasectomy Myths: True or False?

We asked Dr. Welliver to help us dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions around vasectomies. We think that you’ll agree that it’s a lot less intimidating once you’ve read the answers below (especially No. 1).

1. Vasectomies lower sexual drive.

Definitely false. There is some data that demonstrates that after their vasectomy guys have more sex on a monthly basis (about one more time per month). The study couldn’t identify the reason for this, but I suspect it has something to do with less concern for pregnancy.

2. Having a vasectomy can increase your risks for diseases like prostate cancer.

Likely false. A variety of studies have tried to connect these disease however no one has described any obvious causative mechanism in the body that would cause this. Having a vasectomy and getting prostate cancer are both relatively common so in some cases statistics can make it appear there is a correlation but no one has described how the human body would cause this to happen, i.e. there is no smoking gun.

3. A vasectomy is an invasive procedure and the recovery time is extensive.

False. In rare cases, recovery can be extensive, but this occurs to less than 5% of men and is usually related to a fairly minor complication like a hematoma (a collection of blood in the scrotum). Overall, most patients recover quickly with minimal pain or compromise to any of your usual activities. You may not be ready to run a marathon the next day, but most guys are back to their workout routine a week later.

4. Vasectomies are easily reversed.

This, at least, is partially true. The vasectomy reversal is a two- to four-hour procedure and generally requires the operating room. Most insurance companies will not cover a reversal so the patient would have to pay cash for the procedure, which is usually in the thousands of dollars. The vasectomy reversal itself is not dangerous, however it will be expensive to get to the point where you could have it reversed.

Clay Abney
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Clay Abney is a PR guru and freelance writer living in the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia, where he spends his…
How to Cultivate Modern Rustic Style in Your Own Home
rustic modern home

If the dream home you envision is a rugged reflection of your passion for the outdoors, modern rustic style is the look you need. Rough stone fireplaces, exposed wood beams, and a cozy sofa with a buffalo check flannel blanket, this style isn’t the feminine chic look popularized by Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper. Rustic homes are masculine retreats that can be anything from a cabin in the woods to a farmhouse on a ranch.
The term "rustic" can be used to refer to a range of looks. The key is in the way the home reflects its natural surroundings. Where other styles like minimalism or mid-century modern want the connection to nature to be built around the view to the outside, rustic brings the outdoors in. The abundance of natural materials often left raw (untreated and in their natural form) creates a feeling of still being in nature while relaxing in the comfort of your own home.

This is one style that has seen a dramatic shift in recent years, forgoing the “revival” of other trends and instead morphing into something fresh and new. While in the past rustic was divided into two distinctly different looks -- farmhouse was the feminine answer to the masculine mountain cabin -- today’s rustic can be used in either setting and focuses on blending rugged materials with luxurious finishing touches.

Read more
Spring Lawn Care Tips: How to Bring Your Yard Back to Life After Winter
well groomed lawn

If you take a look at my back yard right now, you're going to have some explaining to do, because you can only see the yard from inside my house or from neighboring private property. Instead, how about I take a look for you, and then I'll tell you what I see.

I see plenty of work needed. Grass lawns don't just grow back healthy and hearty year after year, not without help, anyway. We laid down brand-new sod on our property just four years back, and for the first year following, the yard looked pretty great with minimal effort. In all the years since, however, the effort needed to keep the lawn healthy has grown every spring.

Read more
How Long Does It Take to Get a Tax Refund?
how long does it take to receive tax refund 2021

You've filed your tax returns and found out you'll be getting money back from the government this year. However, you won't see that money right away, even if you filed electronically. Several factors affect how soon (or late) you'll receive your tax refund. For instance, the quickest way to get your refund is to e-file and choose direct deposit, but you could still experience delays if there are errors in your return or you elected to file too close to the May 17 tax deadline.

As tempting as it is to refresh your banking app every hour until that sweet refund money magically appears, it's far from the most productive thing you could do with your time. Instead, check out the schedule below to see when you should expect to get a tax refund — and find out what could be holding it up.
2021 Tax Refund Schedule
E-File With Direct Deposit: 1-3 Weeks
This is the quickest way to get your tax refund. If you file online and have direct deposit set up, you could have your refund in as little as a week. At the most, it'll take up to three weeks for your refund to arrive in your bank account.
E-File With Paper Check: 1 Month
Filing online doesn't mean you'll automatically receive a tax refund by direct deposit. You can opt to have a paper refund check sent to you instead. However, it could take about a month after your return is processed for the IRS to cut you a check.
Paper File With Direct Deposit: 3 Weeks
It'll take some time for your tax return to reach the IRS if you file by mail, especially in light of the pandemic. Once your paper return is accepted and processed, your tax refund should be directly deposited into your bank account within 21 days.
Paper File With Paper Check: 2 Months
This method is not recommended as it's the most time-consuming, but there may be circumstances when doing everything on paper is necessary. (For instance, maybe you have to prepare a return for someone who passed away last year.) In this case, expect to have a refund check in your hands in two months.
Where Is My Tax Refund?
You can check the status of your tax refund through the IRS Where's My Refund? tracker 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after sending a paper return. If it's been more than 21 days since your return was accepted and you haven't gotten your tax refund, contact the IRS.

Read more