What Is the Chance of Vasectomy Failure?

The chance of vasectomy failure is much lower than many other birth control methods, but there can be certain risks and some complications.

Whether you have decided you do not want any children or you think you already have enough, vasectomy is always an option. You can find many birth control methods today, but most of them are not permanent like vasectomy. The procedure involves cutting a tube called the vas deferens to ensure the sperm do not get into the semen or a woman's body. The procedure is quite cheap and is more reliable at preventing pregnancy as compared to other birth control methods. Before you make a decision, it is important to consider tubal ligation complications and vasectomy failure rate. Let's find out more about it.

What Is the Failure Rate of Vasectomy?

While the overall failure rate is 0.15%, it is much more effective than what the statistics suggest. In most cases, vasectomy failures happen when there are live sperm present in a man's semen – this usually happens within the first couple of months of vasectomy. Having unprotected sex soon after the procedure may result in unwanted pregnancy. It is therefore a good idea to use another birth control method for the first few months or until you have ejaculated about 25 times. This ensures there are no live sperm in the vas deferens tubes.

Proper patient education goes a long way in preventing this type of failure. Here it is important to mention that in some cases, the vas deferens reconnects, which results in pregnancy. This type of failure rate is around 0.025%.

Possible Reasons Why Vasectomy Fails

Vasectomy failure rate is quite low, but it is still possible. This can happen due to several reasons. However, it usually happens due to recanalization failure and inexperienced surgeon. Here is more about it.

Recanalization Failure

Recanalization failure means that the blocked sperm tubes have reconnected after the procedure. These tubes can connect on one or both sides – it usually depends on how the surgeon has blocked the tubes in the first place. Sperm can move rapidly and try to penetrate the blockage caused after a vasectomy and they may succeed when the scar tissue is still soft. They can even create tiny passages to bypass the obstruction. The recanalization rates are lower for techniques such as the use of sutures or surgical clips – the rate is also lower when the procedure is done through burning of the inner hole of the tubes.

Inexperienced Surgeon

An inexperienced surgeon may find it difficult to correctly identify sperm tubes during the procedure. Some surgeons may not be able to block both sides properly, which increases vasectomy failure rate. It may be difficult to identify the vas deferens tubes because they are in the scrotum along with nerves and blood vessels. A surgeon may select a different tube, which is going to do nothing to keep sperm out of the semen. You can avoid this problem by selecting an experienced vasectomist in the first place.

Possible Risks of Vasectomy

The procedure is usually safe, but some people may develop chronic pain. It usually affects 1 in 1,000 men after the procedure. This usually happens due to the buildup of sperm in a 16-foot-long coiled tube right behind each testicle. The thing is that your body continues to produce sperm even after a vasectomy and these sperm have to go somewhere. They start accumulating in that coiled tube and the pressure may become painful for some men.

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure and there can be certain risks, such as the swelling of the scrotum, bleeding, bruising, infection, pressure in the testes, and the formation of a lump. However, you do not have to worry about losing your ability to enjoy sex because a vasectomy is not connected to erectile dysfunction in any way.

Who Should Get a Vasectomy?

You may want to go for a vasectomy if you know for sure you do not want children. While there are certain instances when the procedure can be reversed, it is generally considered a permanent birth control method. Therefore, it is important to opt for this method only when you are sure about not having kids.

However, you should wait to have a vasectomy if you have any infection in the area close to your scrotum. Similarly, those who have a bleeding disorder, a tumor in the testicles, or undescended testicles should avoid going for a vasectomy.

Vasectomy vs. Tubal Ligation

In New Zealand and Canada, where the rate of vasectomies is the highest, but only one-third of couples in the United States choose vasectomy and two-thirds go for female tubal ligation. However, more and more people are now becoming aware of the fact that a vasectomy is much safer as compared to tubal ligation, and vasectomy failure rate is lower too.

Comparison of Tubal Ligation and Vasectomy


Tubal Ligation


Useful duration



Failure rate

Between 0.73% and 1.85%

0.02% and 0.2%


Surgery center

In-office procedure


Usually covered

Usually covered


An hour or more

Half an hour or less




Postoperative care

Overnight stay required

Return home immediately


4-7 days

48 hours or less


Between $5,000 and $8,500

Between $800 and $1,500


Severe pain, chronic pelvic pain

Soreness, mild pain, swelling, bruising


Major surgery with use of general anesthesia

Reaction to local anesthesia


Major surgery with problems of infection, bleeding, or even death

Infection or hematoma



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