A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control for males. It is a sterilization process achieved by interrupting the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the penis. This prevents sperm from being released in the semen during ejaculation.

A vasectomy can usually be done at a doctor’s office in about 20 minutes under local anesthesia. A small incision is made in the tubes on either side of the scrotum. The tubes are then isolated and cut. The cut ends are secured with clips or plastic tubing, and the skin is repaired with absorbable stitches.

There may be some pain and bruising for a few days following the procedure. Wearing an athletic supporter for the first few days after the procedure may help relieve any feeling of heaviness. Small lumps called granulomas may form near the testicles and will require medical attention. A man’s sexual performance is not affected by the surgery, and sexual activity may be resumed as soon as discomfort subsides.

It is important to remember that it can take up to six weeks to clear residual sperm from the tubes, so a reliable form of birth control should be used for that time following the procedure. A semen sample should be tested for sperm at the end of the six-week period to determine the effectiveness of the procedure.

For more information, visit The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.