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Vasectomy (Male Sterilization)

Effectiveness: Nearly 100 percent (less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women each year).

What is it? A vasectomy is an out-patient procedure to close or cut the vas deferens (tubes inside the scrotum) to prevent sperm from being released from the man’s body. The man continues to make semen, but it does not contain sperm. The vasectomy is not effective for about 3 months; a doctor will perform a sperm test to determine when the vasectomy can be relied on to prevent pregnancy.

How does it work? It prevents sperm from being released.

STD protection: No; you will still need to use condoms if you are concerned about STDs.

Benefits: It can be an excellent choice with few side effects if you are finished having children or don't plan to have children. In the long-term, it may be one of the least-expensive methods of birth control.

Disadvantages: It is considered permanent. It is surgery and therefore carries some risk and involves a brief recovery period. Short-term tenderness and bruising may occur, but there is little risk of pain or infection. Serious complications are rare, but always talk with your health care provider about risks and benefits.

Availability: Sterilization is done by a health care professional in a medical office, clinic or hospital.

Cost: $350 to $1,000. It may be covered by insurance.*

Notes: Because sterilization is meant to be permanent, there may be state or federal requirements, such as waiting periods or age restrictions. Some doctors may not be willing to sterilize young women with no children.

* The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover with no co-pay any FDA-approved contraceptive method prescribed by your doctor, including barrier methods, hormonal methods, implanted methods, emergency contraception, female sterilization and patient education and counseling. These estimated costs apply to women who do not have insurance coverage or who work for a "religious employer," who may be exempt from providing contraceptive coverage. For details about what your insurance covers, contact your benefits coordinator or health insurance provider.

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