How Much Does a Vasectomy Cost?

Costs and Insurance Coverage for a Vasectomy

surgical tools for a vasectomy on a tray
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If you've decided you're done having children or do not want to have children you may be considering a vasectomy. What is the cost of this procedure? Does medical insurance usually cover these costs? In the big picture, how does the cost of a vasectomy compare with other methods of birth control?

Vasectomy Overview and Effectiveness as a Permanent Birth Control Method

A vasectomy, also known as male sterilization, is considered to be a permanent birth control method.

There are between 175,000 and 354,000 vasectomies performed in the U.S. each year, though in some regions, such as the U.K, the number of men undergoing a vasectomy has dropped significantly in recent years. Nobody is certain as to why the number of vasectomy procedures is decreasing, but some believe it may be related to the fact that people are having children later in life, or that with the high divorce rate, some men may be foregoing the procedure in case their marriage breaks up and their next partner wants children.

The failure rate for vasectomy is very low, with rates of pregnancy following the procedure between 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent. In other words, it's over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy once a semen analysis shows that sperm are no longer present in the semen.

A vasectomy is considered to be a surgical procedure, yet the cost of a vasectomy is about five times less than the cost of a tubal ligation (female sterilization).

Before you seek a vasectomy, it may be helpful to ask your doctor if your state has any sterilization requirements or restrictions. In some areas, there may be waiting periods, age restrictions, required counseling, or spousal consent.

Average cost of a Vasectomy

In the United States, a vasectomy costs between $300 to $3000.

The cost of a vasectomy will typically cover your initial consultation, the actual vasectomy procedure, anesthesia, and follow-up semen analyses (you may need to have two to three of these done after your vasectomy is performed). Though most doctors or clinics will include all of these in one price, some may charge for each individually, so make sure to inquire about this when researching potential doctors. In most cases, the cost is the same for both types of vasectomy procedures: the no-scalpel vasectomy or a conventional vasectomy.

Vasectomy costs may differ considerably depending on where the procedure takes place. Typically, a vasectomy is performed in a doctor’s office, clinic, or outpatient surgical facility/hospital by a board-certified urologist. Your vasectomy may cost more if it takes place in an outpatient medical facility because some of these centers charge an additional facility fee. It's also important to keep in mind that side effects or complications of a vasectomy may sometimes add to the cost.

Weighing the Costs of a Vasectomy vs Other Forms of Birth Control

A discussion of the costs of a vasectomy would be incomplete if we did not talk about the costs of foregoing a vasectomy.

If you are certain you wish to prevent pregnancy, the effectiveness of procedure is an important consideration. The cost of having another child—though the child would be loved no less than if planned—is substantial!

It's not just an unplanned pregnancy, however, that must be weighed when comparing the cost of a vasectomy. Other forms of birth control can be pricey as well, whether from the standpoint of your pocket book or with regard to your health and wellness. The birth control pill is relatively inexpensive, but when all of those months are added up until menopause, the cost could well exceed that of a vasectomy.

And that's just the monetary costs. Some women experience uncomfortable side effects such as weight gain or mood swings, and in those who have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, the pill can mildly increase the risk. In a monogamous relationship an IUD can be very effective, but also has potential complications such as infection or perforation.

From the male contraceptive standpoint, a lifetime supply of condoms may or may not cost more than a vasectomy. It depends on your taste and the frequency with which you need them. From a non-monetary standpoint, a vasectomy is much more convenient. A vasectomy, however, doesn't reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases as a condom may.

There are many other questions to consider when choosing a form of birth control, but the take home message is that the cost—at least the financial cost—may be minor in comparison with other reasons for your choice.

Medical Insurance Coverage for a Vasectomy

Most health insurance companies will cover vasectomy costs if performed as an outpatient procedure, but you should check with your insurance provider to make sure that they include vasectomy benefits. Usually, health insurance companies will cover most or all of your vasectomy cost after your yearly deductible has been met. If you qualify, Medicaid or other state programs in your area may also cover the cost of a vasectomy.

If you do not have a health insurance plan, some doctors or clinics may offer a sliding scale fee that is determined based on your income. You can also check with your doctor to determine if she may offer you a discount on your vasectomy cost if you pay in cash and/or if a payment plan can be established. Make sure you also inquire about which payment options your doctor accepts.

In addition to researching various urologists and their vasectomy costs, you should also be sure that you want to undergo permanent sterilization

The Cost of Vasectomy Reversal

A vasectomy reversal may cost between $3000 and $15000 and most health insurance companies will not cover this procedure. Not only does a vasectomy reversal cost a lot of money, the success rate for restoring fertility and achieving pregnancy greatly varies. In general, the more time that passes between a vasectomy and a vasectomy reversal procedure, the greater the likelihood that it will be ineffective.

Alternative Forms of Permanent Birth Control

Alternatives to vasectomy (permanent birth control methods) include tying a woman's tubes (tubal ligation) and Essure (a non-surgical procedure in which metal springs are placed in the fallopian tube via the cervix to block the tubes.)

The cost of a vasectomy is usually much less than a tubal ligation, but this can vary depending on where you have the procedure done and your particular insurance coverage. Non-monetary costs are also higher for a tubal ligation, with the risk of complications or even death from a tubal ligation much higher than that of a vasectomy.

In one study, men who had higher education or income were more likely to opt for a vasectomy, whereas women with lower education and income were more likely to choose tubal sterilization.

Bottom Line on the Cost of a Vasectomy

A "typical" vasectomy costs between $300 and $3000, but there are many non-monetary costs that must be considered as well in making this important decision. These costs, in turn, need to be weighed against the long term costs of other birth control methods, both temporary and permanent.

Many factors come in to play in choosing the best form of birth control including the wishes of both partners, health risks related to the method, and even the chance that you may later regret whatever decision you have made.

It's important to have a deep and thorough discussion with your partner, followed by a thoughtful discussion with your health care provider.

Sources:

Anderson, J., Jamieson, D., Warner, L., Kissin, D., Nangia, A., and M. Macaluso. Contraceptive Sterilization Among Married Adults: National Data on Who Chooses Vasectomy and Tubal Ligation. Contraception. 2012. 85(6):552-7.

Eisenberg, M., and L. Lipshultz. Estimating the Number of Vasectomies Performed Annually in the United States: Data From the National Survey of Family Growth. The Journal of Urology. 2010. 184(5):2068-72.

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