At What Age Can You Get a Vasectomy?
- Vasectomies are considered a permanent form of birth control, so do your due diligence before making such a significant decision.
- Vasectomies are usually covered by insurance, but vasectomy reversals are expensive and don't always work.
- There's only one age requirement to getting a vasectomy, and as men never stop producing sperm, there's no maximum age for undergoing the procedure.
Recently, a 62-year-old man had a vasectomy.
"He was recently divorced," said Laurence Levine, M.D., the board-certified urologist who performed the procedure. "He did not want to have any more children, and so he requested a vasectomy to prevent an unwanted pregnancy."
On the other end of the spectrum, Levine, who is also a professor of urology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, has performed a vasectomy on a man in his late 20s. The man said he was convinced he would never want to have children.
Most men who come to Levine for a vasectomy are in their 30s and 40s, and they have decided that they have had enough children. These men make up about 85 percent of his vasectomy patients.
What's the perfect age to get a vasectomy?
Each year in the United States, more than half a million men get a vasectomy, according to Cleveland Clinic.
The average age for men who receive a vasectomy is approximately 35, with the typical range being between 30 and 56, according to a 2020 study published in the American Journal of Men's Health.
There is no perfect age to get a vasectomy, and all men should carefully consider if a vasectomy is right for them before proceeding. A vasectomy is considered permanent sterilization, so you need to be certain that you do not want more—or any—children.
Can a teenager get a vasectomy?
In the U.S., you must be at least 18 years old to get a vasectomy. In medical facilities that receive federal funding, you must be at least 21.
Some healthcare providers may decline to perform the procedure or refer you to a specialist if they think you may regret the decision.
Are you ever too old to get a vasectomy?
There's no upper age limit on a vasectomy. Men produce sperm their entire lives—fertility decreases with age, however—and are theoretically capable of impregnating someone at any age.
What type of vasectomy is best for my age?
A vasectomy involves cutting and sealing both of the vas deferens, the tubes that transport sperm to the urethra before ejaculation. Age does not factor into the type of vasectomy you will get.
The two primary types of vasectomies are the incision (conventional) method and the no-scalpel (no-cut) method.
In a conventional vasectomy, the doctor makes one or two small incisions in the skin of the scrotum. Both vas deferens will be pulled through the openings and cut. The ends of the tube will be sealed and the vas is put back inside the scrotum.
The physician then uses sutures to close the cuts when the procedure is complete.
In a no-scalpel vasectomy, a clamp is attached to the scrotal skin to hold the vas deferens in place; then, a special tool is used to make a tiny puncture. The no-scalpel vasectomy has been in use in the U.S. for more than three decades. This method is more common, and many urologists use this method exclusively.
- What Are the Pros and Cons of a Vasectomy?: Why do people decide to go for 'the snip' rather than other forms of birth control?
- What Getting a Vasectomy Is Really Like: After making the big decision about the little snip, the procedure went swimmingly.
- What to Know When Considering a Vasectomy: There's much to consider before getting a vasectomy. Here are the things you need to know.
Does insurance cover a vasectomy?
Insurance typically covers vasectomies. If you're uninsured or your insurance does not cover them, out-of-pocket costs are about $1,000. Vasectomy costs vary depending on your location, the season and your doctor.
How long does a vasectomy last?
A vasectomy is considered a permanent form of sterilization. It is safe and more than 99 percent effective. After a patient has a vasectomy, they need to follow up with their provider to ensure that no sperm are identified under the microscope.
"One month after surgery, I have them back to produce a specimen in the office, or they can do it at home," Levine said. "I look into the microscope, and typically at one month, probably 85, 90 percent of patients will already show no sperm."
For the 10 percent to 15 percent of patients with sperm in their semen sample, Levine will have them come back two to four weeks later for a recheck.
Under the post-vasectomy guidelines, it's required that the patient has two sequential specimens that show zero sperm under the microscope.
"Not until then can I call them surgically sterile," Levine said.
Can you get a vasectomy reversal?
Yes, you can get a vasectomy reversal. The procedure can undo the effect of a vasectomy by reconnecting the severed ends of the vas deferens, allowing sperm to travel from the testicles into the semen.
"A lot of men think, 'A vasectomy is like an on/off switch. If I change my mind, I can just reverse it. It's easy.' No, it's not that easy," Levine said. "It's expensive, it may not be covered by insurance and it doesn't always work."
Vasectomy reversals are usually not covered by insurance and cost between $5,000 and $15,000.
While a vasectomy is reversible, the procedure is not as simple or reliable as the vasectomy, Levine said. Success rates for vasectomy reversal range from 60 percent to 95 percent, according to Mayo Clinic.
The bottom line
A vasectomy is one of the safest and most reliable methods of contraception. The outpatient procedure is generally accomplished in less than 30 minutes, and only about 1 percent of men experience chronic pain afterward.
The average age of a vasectomy patient is 35, but legally, it does not matter how old you are—as long as you are at least 18 (or 21 at some federally funded facilities).