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Sexual and Reproductive Health


​What is a vasectomy?

  • A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control.
  • The tubes that carry the sperm from the testicles into the semen (vas deferens) are cut and sealed. Without sperm, an egg can't be fertilized and a person can't get pregnant.
  • A vasectomy is covered by healthcare insurance, but a reversal isn't. A person must be sure they want it don​​e. Reversal surgery doesn't always work. 

How well does a vasectomy work?

  • A vasectomy doesn't work right away. Use another form of birth control (like condoms or hormonal birth control) until tests show no sperm in the semen.
  • After your procedure, your healthcare provider will tell you when to go for a sperm test.
  • A vasectomy is more than 99% effective. Once no sperm is confirmed by the lab test, the risk of pregnancy is 1 in 2000.
  • A vasectomy doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

How do I get a vasectomy?

​You can make an appointment yourself with a doctor who does the procedure, or have your health care provider refer you.

How is a vasectomy done?

A vasectomy takes 15 to 30 minutes. It is often done while you are awake. Freezing medicine (local anesthetic) is injected in both sides of the sac that holds your testicles (scrotum). One or two small openings (incisions) are made in the scrotum. Each tube is gently pulled through the opening. A small section of each tube is partially removed or blocked. The opening is then closed and covered with a bandage.

What are the benefits of a vasectomy?

  • It is one of the safest, most effective forms of birth control.
  • A vasectomy is a private and permanent form of birth control. No one can tell if you have had a vasectomy. You won't notice a difference when you ejaculate. Sperm makes up less than 10 percent of the fluid that is released.
  • It's safer than a tubal ligation.
  • A vasectomy doesn't interrupt intercourse.
  • There are no long-term effects.
  • A vasectomy is done as a day procedure, so you don't need to take a lot of time off work.

A vasectomy will not affect:

  • your hormones
  • your interest in sex
  • your ability to have an erection
  • the feeling you get while having sex
  • the amount of fluid in your ejaculate (cum)
  • the risk of prostate or testicular cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, or dementia 

What are the side effects of a vasectomy?

All surgery has some risks. Rarely, after a vasectomy you might have bleeding, infection, pain, bruising, or swelling.

What else do I need to know about a vasectomy?

  • A vasectomy doesn't work right away. It takes 8 weeks or more to get rid of the sperm that is stored in the tubes.
  • Think about getting emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy if you had sex before confirming that there is no sperm.
  • It is simpler, safer, and less expensive than a tubal ligation.
  • A vasectomy is not easy to reverse, so you must be sure you don't want to have children before you decide to have one.

What else is important to know about consent, sexual activity, and birth control?

  • You have the right to decide to have sex or not. Talk with your partner or partners about consent.
  • There’s an 85% chance of becoming pregnant within one year, if no birth control is used for vaginal sex.
  • Use a condom or barrier every time you have sex (oral, vaginal, anal). Condoms help prevent pregnancy, STIs, and HIV.
  • You can lower your risk of HIV by taking an HIV prevention pill every day. Many Albertans can get it for free. Visit HIV PrEP to find out more.
  • Transgender and gender diverse people who have a uterus can use hormonal birth control. It can help prevent pregnancy and make periods lighter and less painful.

Where can I find more information?

If you have questions, need to find a sexual health clinic near you, or want more information, call Health Link at 811 anytime, day or night, to talk to a registered nurse.

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