Vasectomy versus Other Forms of Birth Control
With the advancements in birth control today, it is easier now more than ever to plan your family. But since there are so many forms of contraception, it may feel overwhelming to determine which method to use. It is our goal to help you make an informed decision.
When deciding what method of birth control is best for you, there are several factors to consider. Some things to think about are price, failure rate, benefits and side effects. If you are in the market for a less intrusive, low failure rate, and cost effective form of birth control, we recommend a vasectomy.
There are several reasons why a vasectomy is the best form of birth control, but here we compare and contrast several forms of contraception with a vasectomy to help you understand why it best fits your birth control needs.
Forms of birth control
❏ Condoms – Condoms are typically made of latex and stretch over the penis to block ejaculation and help prevent the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases to some extent.
❏ Female condoms – The female condom is a thin pouch placed inside the vagina before intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
❏ Diaphragm – The diaphragm is covered in spermicide and placed over the cervix to help prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. It is placed in the vagina previous to intercourse and then removed after intercourse. The diaphragm itself however, can last for up to 2 years.
❏ Cervical Cap – A cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm, but is placed deeper within the vagina to cover the cervix.
❏ Sponge – The sponge is soaked in spermicide and placed inside the vagina before intercourse.
❏ Spermicide – Spermicides can be jellies, foams, or tablets that are inserted into the vagina before intercourse.
❏ Oral contraceptives – Oral contraceptives are small pills taken orally each day; they consist of estrogen and progestin. These hormones make it so that the ovaries do not release an egg.
❏ The Patch – The skin patch is placed on the skin once a week and it, much like the oral contraceptive, releases estrogen and progestin into the body.
❏ Vaginal Ring – This is a flexible ring placed into the vagina; it releases a steady flow of estrogen and progestin. The ring must be replaced monthly.
❏ Birth control shot – This is a shot of progestin given once every three months.
❏ Morning after pill – These are to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. There is a progestin-based pill and a progesterone-based pill.
❏ IUD – This is a T-shaped device placed inside the uterus. It prevents the sperm from being able to reaching and fertilizing the egg.
❏ Implants – Implants are small rods placed inside the upper arm. It is a controlled release of progestin that lasts for three years.
❏ Tubal Ligation – This is a female sterilization surgery in which the fallopian tubes are sealed off so that the sperm cannot reach the eggs. This is a permanent form of birth control.
❏ Essure – This is less invasive than tubal ligation, but still meant as a permanent form of birth control. A catheter placed up through the vagina into the fallopian tubes where a flexible coil is placed to block off access through the fallopian tubes.
❏ Hysterectomy – This is a major surgery that consists of removing the woman’s uterus. There are different versions of a hysterectomy ranging from partial to complete and different surgical approaches.
❏ Vasectomy – A simple procedure that sterilizes a man. The surgery blocks the tubes that transfer sperm from the testes.
Average cost of each
❏ Condoms – The average cost of a condom is $1.33. Say a condom is used 127 times in a year. That is an annual cost of $168.91, not to mention the few that break or get lost.
❏ Female condoms – The average cost for female condoms are $2 to $4 a piece. Assuming it would be used around 127 times a year, the annual cost of female condoms is $254 – $508.
❏ Diaphragm – You must have a doctor’s prescription for a diaphragm, so factor in the cost for that visit. The approximate cost for the diaphragm itself is $75 and it lasts for 2 years. The spermicide however, must be replaced each time you have intercourse. Spermicide costs between $7 – $18 a package. Calculating in the cost of spermicide and the diaphragm, the annual cost should be around $114.
❏ Cervical Cap – The price range for a cervical cap is $15 – $50, and spermicide costs between $7 – $18. The cervical cap can last up to 2 years, which makes the annual cost somewhere around $100.
❏ Sponge – The contraceptive sponge costs between $9 – $15, and the spermicide can cost between $7 – $18. The sponge is a one time use only product, which means that if it is used 127 times a year it could cost between $2,000 – $4,100 a year.
❏ Spermicide – A spermicide package costs around $8 a package. With that cost, and estimating it being used 127 times a year, spermicidal contraceptives have an annual cost of around $1,000.
❏ Oral contraceptives – The cost for oral contraceptives is around $50 a month. This comes out to an annual cost of $600.
❏ The Patch – The cost of the patch is very similar to that of the pill, ranging from $15 – $50 a month or $160 – $600 a year.
❏ Vaginal Ring – Once again the vaginal ring is similar in cost to the pill and the patch making it $15 – $50 a month, or $160 – $600 a year.
❏ Birth control shot – The shot costs around $20 a month, making the annual cost $240.
❏ Morning after pill – This pill costs about $35 – $60. While typically not used as the primary form of birth control, if it were used 127 times a year it would total approximately $4,500 – $7,600 annually.
❏ IUD – The initial cost of an IUD is around $1,000, but they last up to 12 years. If used for the full 12 years, an IUD costs $84 a year.
❏ Implants – Implanting can cost up to $800, and removal can cost up to $300. The implant lasts for 3 years, which means that if it costs the full price up front, the annual cost of an implant is about $367 a year.
❏ Tubal Ligation – This procedure can cost anywhere between $1,500 – $7,000. While the process may be reversible, typically this procedure is used as a permanent form of birth control. After just 10 years of the procedure, it will have cost between $150 – $700 annually.
❏ Hysterectomy – Depending on the type and where it is done, a hysterectomy can cost anywhere from $7,600 – $11,700. This surgery is not reversible, which means it is a permanent form of birth control, and after 10 years it will have cost around $760 to $1,170 annually.
❏ Essure – The average cost of sterilization with essure is $2,300. This means that after 10 years, the permanent procedure will have cost $230 annually.
❏ Vasectomy – A vasectomy is about $865 at Austin Center for Vasectomy and Vasectomy Reversal, and is a permanent birth control option. After 10 years this procedure will come out to an annual cost of $86.
Failure rate of each
❏ Condoms – 2-18% failure rate
❏ Female condoms – 21% failure rate
❏ Diaphragm – 12% failure rate
❏ Cervical cap – 23% failure rate
❏ Sponge – 24% failure rate
❏ Spermicide – 28% failure rate
❏ Oral contraceptives – 2-9% failure rate
❏ The patch – 2-9% failure rate
❏ Vaginal ring – 2-9% failure rate
❏ Birth control shot – 6% failure rate
❏ Morning after pill – 12-40% failure rate
❏ IUD – less than 1% failure rate
❏ Implants – less than 1% failure rate
❏ Tubal ligation – less than 1% failure rate
❏ Essure – less than 1% failure rate
❏ Hysterectomy – 0% failure rate
❏ Vasectomy – 0.15% failure rate
Benefits of each
❏ Condoms – Easily accessible, easy to use, inexpensive, safe, and disposable.
❏ Female condoms – Reduces the risk of transferring STDs, less likely to break than a male condom, there is no need for a prescription, they are disposable.
❏ Diaphragm – Easier to insert than a cervical cap, unlikely to be felt by your partner during intercourse, does not interrupt foreplay, does not interfere with hormones, can be used while breastfeeding.
❏ Cervical cap – Reusable, fairly inexpensive, requires less spermicide than a diaphragm, may be used for repeated intercourse within 48 hours of inserting it.
❏ Sponge – No prescription necessary, can be placed 24 hours in advance, you can have intercourse as many times as you want within the 30 hours that it is in, it does not affect hormones, can be used while breastfeeding.
❏ Spermicide – Easily accessible, does not affect hormones, they are inexpensive, can be tucked away in a purse.
❏ Oral contraceptives – Reduce acne, reduce symptoms of PMS, lighter and less painful periods, ease menstrual migraines, reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
❏ The patch – Safe, easy to use, convenient, reduces acne, reduces symptoms of PMS, lighter and less painful periods, eases premenstrual pains.
❏ Vaginal ring – Easy to use, fewer negative side effects that other forms of contraceptives, shorter and lighter periods.
❏ Birth control shot – Safe, simple, provides long lasting pregnancy prevention, can help prevent cancer in the lining of the uterus.
❏ Morning after pill – Prevents pregnancies when other contraception is forgotten, some versions of emergency contraception can then be used as ongoing contraception.
❏ IUD – Convenient, some have no hormones, the copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception, periods diminish or disappear, works long term.
❏ Implants – Easy to use, fast reversal option, less painful periods.
❏ Tubal ligation – It lasts forever, does not affect hormones.
❏ Essure – A less invasive procedure is required but it still permanent. It does not however, affect hormones.
❏ Hysterectomy – It is a permanent form of birth control.
❏ Vasectomy – No change to the enjoyment of sex, easy minimally invasive procedure, permanent birth control that is reversible in almost all cases if necessary, outpatient in-office procedure, only needs topical anesthetic, no risk to female partner. (Learn more about vasectomy reversal here.)
Side effects of each
❏ Condoms – Some people are allergic to latex which may make it difficult to find condoms that have the same low failure rate. Even for those that are not allergic to latex, condoms can cause vagina irritation.
❏ Female condoms – The female condom is difficult to insert correctly; it may cause irritation and/or allergic reactions.
❏ Diaphragm – Diaphragms can cause irritation, an increase in bladder infections, and in some cases toxic shock if left in for too long.
❏ Cervical cap – The cervical cap, much like a diaphragm, can cause irritation, an increase in bladder infections, irregular pap smears, and in some cases toxic shock if it is left in for too long.
❏ Sponge – The sponge can cause irritation, allergic reactions, it can be difficult to get out, and in some cases can cause toxic shock if not taken out within a day.
❏ Spermicide – Spermicide can cause irritation, allergic reactions, and urinary tract infections.
❏ Oral contraceptives – Some side effects of oral contraceptives include headaches, nausea, dizziness, breast pain, and irregular periods. In some, oral contraceptives can increase the risk of heart attack, blood clots, stroke, and other serious diseases. Other more serious side effects have been reported.
❏ The patch – The patch is a higher dose of estrogen than the pill which can potentially increase the risk for blood clots and stroke.
❏ Vaginal ring – The vaginal ring may cause discomfort and/or vaginal discharge.
❏ Birth control shot – The birth control shot is a high dosage of hormones which means that the side effects can be headaches, weight gain, loss of bone density, anxiety, and abdominal discomfort.
❏ Morning after pill – Both versions of the morning after pill can cause side effects like headaches, dizziness, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and tiredness.
❏ IUD – Side effects of an IUD include; cramps, discomfort, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, ectopic pregnancies, infections, and it can get stuck in the uterus.
❏ Implants – The side effects of implants are similar to that of the oral contraceptives and the patch; abdominal discomfort, spotting, weight gain, and breast pain.
❏ Tubal ligation – This surgery can cause a few different side effects; pain, infection, bleeding, and in some cases ectopic pregnancies can occur. This also requires surgery around other vital organs with a low chance of injury.
❏ Essure – Since this is a less invasive version of a tubal ligation the side effects are pain, and the chance of an ectopic pregnancy.
❏ Hysterectomy – This is a major surgery, which means the side effects can be great. It is also such an intense surgery that patients must stay at the hospital post surgery to be monitored. Possible side effects include; infection, blood clots, heavy bleeding, early menopause, pain during intercourse.
❏ Vasectomy – Since a vasectomy is a surgical procedure, there is risk of infection and bleeding, although these are very rare complications. There are the extremely unlikely risks of damage to one of the blood supplies to the testicle and post-vasectomy pain syndrome.
There are many different forms of birth control; some are messy, some are expensive, some have scary side effects and dangerous procedures. Many men are now choosing a vasectomy as the best form of permanent birth control.
Unlike tubal ligation and hysterectomies, vasectomies are a simple procedure where only a local anesthetic is needed. Most men can resume work with 2 or 3 days, and normal physical activity within a week. Vasectomies have one of the smallest failure rates, and they do not interfere with intercourse; in fact, some men say it has enhanced their sex life.