How Vasectomy Compares to Other Forms of Birth Control

By: Dr. Parviz Kavoussi | Posted on: 22 Mar 2017

There are many reasons for why a man may choose a vasectomy for birth control. Factors, such as cost, effectiveness, benefits and possible side effects may all play a role. Here are some ways that a vasectomy compares to other forms of birth control:

Failure Rate and Average Cost

The facts that I've provided below compare some of the most popular forms of birth control.

Birth Control Form Average Annual Cost Failure Rate     
Condoms $168.91 2-18%
Cervical Cap $100 23%
Sponge $2,000-$4,000 24%
Oral Contraceptives       $600 2-9%
Hysterectomy $760-$1,170  (over 10 years)       0%
Vasectomy $86 (over 10 years) .15%


Condoms: Easy to use, inexpensive, safe, and disposable.

Cervical caps: Reusable, inexpensive, requires less spermicide than a diaphragm, and reusable within 48 hours of inserting it.

Sponge: A sponge does not require a prescription and can be placed 24 hours in advance. Sponges also do not affect hormones, and allow for multiple sessions of intercourse within the 30 hours that it is placed. Sponges are also safe to use while breastfeeding.

Oral contraceptives: "The pill" is known to reduce acne, symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and the risk of ovarian cancer. Women typically have lighter and less painful periods while taking oral contraceptives.

Hysterectomy: This form of birth control last forever with a 0% failure rate.

Vasectomies: This procedure does not affect the enjoyment of sex and is minimally invasive. It's also permanent, but can be reversed if necessary with a vasectomy reversal. It is an outpatient in-office procedure that only requires a topical anesthetic.

Side Effects

Condoms: Some people are allergic to latex which means condoms can cause vaginal irritation or penile irritation.

Cervical cap: These can cause irritation, result in an increase in bladder infections, and can cause toxic shock if left in for too long.

Sponge: The sponge can cause irritation and allergic reactions. It may be difficult to get out, and can also cause toxic shock if left in for too long.

Oral contraceptives: Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, dizziness, breast pain, and irregular periods. Some oral contraceptives can increase the risk of heart attack, blood clots, stroke, and other serious diseases.

Hysterectomy: Because this procedure is a major surgery, it also comes with huge risks including infection, blood clots, heavy bleeding, early menopause, pain during intercourse, and even a need for hormone therapy.

Vasectomy: There is risk of infection and bleeding, although it is rare. There is an unlikely risk of damage to the blood supply to the testicle and post-surgery pain.

Many men are choosing a vasectomy as a permanent form of birth control because of its cost, effectiveness, and minimal side effects. See a more detailed comparison of a vasectomy to other forms of birth control here.

About the Author

Dr. Parviz Kavoussi holds academic positions as Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and in the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, where he teaches residents training in urology; helps guide best clinical practices in male fertility in his position on the American Society of Andrology Public Affairs and Policy Committee.

He is an expert peer reviewer for multiple scientific medical journals. Dr. Kavoussi runs the Austin Center for Vasectomy & Vasectomy Reversal and is the leading and only specialty fellowship trained Vasectomy Urologist in Austin, TX.