This is a question younger men often grapple when considering a vasectomy, and the answer has several components which vary depending on a number of circumstances. We’re going to break this question down into three sections: legal, medical, and personal.
The legal answer
While the laws governing minimum vasectomy age will vary depending on country and jurisdiction, in the United States, any man who is over 18 years of age and mentally sound can have a vasectomy. From a legal standpoint, what you do with your reproductive system as an adult is entirely up to you.
The medical answer
While a man may be legally allowed to have a vasectomy as young as 18, doctors are not legally required to perform the operation if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
Doctors have a professional and ethical obligation to do what they feel is in the best interest of their patients. For some doctors, this means not performing a vasectomy on men who they feel are too young to make the decision responsibly, or who they worry may regret their decision later on in life.
A doctor’s position will vary depending on the physician’s own personal morals and values, which means that you may get different reactions from different doctors when you request a vasectomy at a very young age. Some doctors may outright refuse to perform vasectomies on younger patients while others will perform the operation with little or no resistance.
You may also find that some doctors will take a middle road, agreeing to perform the operation but requiring a “cooling down” period to ensure the patient is making a sound decision.
When making their decision, doctors will look at factors such as the marital status of the man and the number of children he already has. Doctors are generally more comfortable performing vasectomies on men who are married with kids than single men with no children or spouse.
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Some young men view vasectomy as a safe and effective form of birth control that will provide them with a lifetime of spontaneous, worry-free sex. While this opinion isn’t necessarily wrong, it is misguided.
Even though vasectomy is often referred to as birth control, it should be considered as a form of permanent male sterilization. The only way to have children after a vasectomy is by using banked sperm along with some form of artificial insemination or by getting a vasectomy reversal. Both routes are costly and are never guaranteed to work.
Studies have shown that men who have vasectomies at a very young age are more likely to regret it and/or have a reversal later in their life. Here are some points to consider:
- One study found that men who have vasectomies in their twenties are 12.5 times as likely to have a reversal than older men.1Potts J, Pasqualotto F, Nelson D, Thomas A, Agarwal A. Patient characteristics associated with vasectomy reversal. J Urol. 1999;161(6):1835-1839. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10332448
- 90% of vasectomy reversals occur because the man meets somebody who wants to have children.2Shah Z, Ganta S, Morgans B. The trends of vasectomy reversal in the forces. J R Army Med Corps. 2003;149(4):265-266. doi:10.1136/jramc-149-04-04
- Vasectomy reversals are not always successful.
- The longer a man waits after his vasectomy to have a reversal, the lower the chances of pregnancy.
- Vasectomy reversals are expensive and are not usually covered by insurance.
It’s also important to remember that a vasectomy will not protect you from STDs, so condoms will still be necessary unless you trust your partner.
References and further readingVasectomy-Information.com has a strict sourcing policy. We rely on evidence-based medicine, peer-reviewed studies, reputable clinical journals, and medical associations. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy.
- Potts J, Pasqualotto F, Nelson D, Thomas A, Agarwal A. Patient characteristics associated with vasectomy reversal. J Urol. 1999;161(6):1835-1839. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10332448.
- Shah Z, Ganta S, Morgans B. The trends of vasectomy reversal in the forces. J R Army Med Corps. 2003;149(4):265-266. doi:10.1136/jramc-149-04-04
- Ariel S. Tazkargy, From Coercion to Coercion: Voluntary Sterilization Policies in the United States, 32 Law & Ineq. 135 (2014). https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/lawineq/vol32/iss1/5
- § 54.1-2974. Sterilization operations for persons 18 years or older capable of informed consent. Code of Virginia. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title54.1/chapter29/section54.1-2974/
- Labrecque M, Paunescu C, Plesu I, Stacey D, Légaré F. Evaluation of the effect of a patient decision aid about vasectomy on the decision-making process: a randomized trial. Contraception. 2010;82(6):556-562. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2010.05.003