Vasectomy remains the easiest and most effective method of permanent contraception. For the 5% or so of men who seek a vasectomy reversal, the techniques available offer an overall patency rate of 90%.
Before vasectomy was used as a method of male sterilisation, it was erroneously thought that the procedure might reduce the size of an enlarged prostate or increase the level of circulating male hormones. Its first valid therapeutic use was to prevent retrograde infection following open prostatectomy.
Before this time the procedure had a dubious life as part of a eugenics program for habitual criminals and, more sinisterly, was used by the Third Reich in the 1930s in those deemed undesirable by the regime. Curiously, it was not until 1972 that vasectomy became legal as an operation for contraceptive purposes in the UK. Today, more than 30,000 Australian men undergo vasectomy each year – that is, nearly one in four of the total male population will have a vasectomy in their lifetime.