Summary: There are different kinds of vasectomies, and not all vasectomies cost the same amount. Prices can vary widely. Read on for our advice, or…
About 500,000 men get vasectomies each year in the United States. But what does a vasectomy cost?
We surveyed providers in New York City and several other U.S. cities for their prices, and found a range from $300 to $3,500–and some even higher, as much as $4,000 and $5,000.
The lowest-cost option we found in New York, at the Manhattan Planned Parenthood clinic on Bleecker Street, offers a sliding scale for either of the two kinds of vasectomies that runs from $300 to $1,000, including a follow-up sperm count. The highest-cost option was also in Manhattan. Marc Goldstein M.D. at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center charges $3,500 for a no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomy.
Here’s a price list for New York City area providers, and a price list for San Francisco providers. In Texas, the prices ranged from around $400 to more than $5,000; here’s a list of prices for the removal of sperm ducts (CPT code 55250) in Texas; here’s a list of prices for the no-needle no-scalpel vasectomy (CPT code 55450) in Texas.
(In case you’re curious, the cost of sterilization for a woman is about six times the cost of a vasectomy, according to Planned Parenthood.)
‘Traditional Vasectomies’ vs. ‘No Needle, No Scalpel Vasectomies’
There are two kinds of vasectomies, each with its own procedure code. A “traditional vasectomy” is an open-style procedure using a direct incision on the side of the scrotum, after anesthesia is injected to the surrounding area. The physician may cauterize, cut or tie off the vas deferens (the duct that conveys sperm from the testicle to the urethra), or block it with clips or implants. The CPT or HCPCS code is 55250.
Then there’s the “no needle, no scalpel” vasectomy, where the physician uses a high-pressure jet injector to deliver the anesthesia. Special instruments are then used to punch a tiny hole in the scrotum rather than make a traditional incision, allowing access to cut or tie off the vas deferens in the same way as with a traditional vasectomy. The CPT or HCPCS code is 55450.
Both types of vasectomies are almost always outpatient, and done under a local anesthetic as opposed to general anesthesia. They can be performed in a physician’s office, an outpatient clinic, or a same-day surgery center.
One provider we talked to, Dr. Bruce Gilbert of Great Neck, N.Y., performs “no scalpel” vasectomies, an advancement on the traditional method where a needle is still used to deliver the anesthetic, but no scalpel is used in the actual procedure. Dr. Gilbert’s office reports that an overwhelming majority of phone calls, about 80 percent, come from men inquiring about vasectomies as opposed to women. He has performed more than 1,000 no-scalpel vasectomies over the past 22 years.
Factors For Deciding On A Vasectomy
It’s a fairly even split between providers who offer traditional versus no-needle, no-scalpel vasectomies. So before making an appointment, it makes sense to consider whether you have a preference towards one procedure type or another.
One factor involves procedure time: an incision vasectomy takes about 20 to 30 minutes, while the no-incision method takes less time. Recovery time is the same between the two: a day or two to rest, with no strenuous work or exercise for about a week.
That means couch time. Depending on where you live you’ll even see vasectomy special promotions coming up in time for March Madness 2013. That’s right: Virginia Urology in the Richmond area has a “Vasectomy Madness” Web site up, touting this enticement: “Spend 3 days on the couch watching hoops with your wife’s approval!” (We even found a place that gives a free pizza to the lucky guy, last time we wrote about this.)
Once you’re up off the couch, be careful about channeling your inner Barry White. Pregnancy is still possible after a vasectomy, and you should be sure to get follow-up sperm counts, in order to confirm complete sterility. Dr. Gilbert’s office advises patients that complete sterility usually takes 2-4 months, or 12 to 24 ejaculations. All patients are told to use contraception until the absence of sperm is confirmed by two consecutive semen analyses. Each follow-up analysis costs $75, though some practices include this in a package price.
Vasectomies are generally considered irreversible, but a vasovasostomy reconnects the tubes (vas deferens) cut during a vasectomy. Success rates range between 85 and 98 percent, but the procedure isn’t cheap, and it takes about 4 hours. Douglas G. Stein, a Tampa-based urologist, charges 10 times as much for a vasovasostomy ($4,900) as for a vasectomy ($490). (He usually performs two vasectomy reversals per week, one on Tuesday morning and one on Thursday morning.)
Here’s the Planned Parenthood information page about vasectomies, which will tell you more.