History of Vasectomy

Date: 24 Apr 2024

During vasectomy consultations, a few patients ask me about how long vasectomy has been around and the effect of vasectomy on general well-being/ libido. To be honest, I was unaware of history of vasectomy and decided to do review available information from various resources. The following is the result which might be of interest to our members.


The 1st recorded vasectomy was performed on a dog by Cooper in 1823 to investigate the anatomy of the tube that carries the sperm - the vas deferens, and as an alternative to castration. Reginald Harrison of London performed the 1st human vasectomy in 1893, not for sterilization purposes, but to bring about atrophy of the prostate. 


Another unfounded purported medical benefit for vasectomy promoted in the early 20th century was the return of youthful vigor, or "rejuvenation". Austrian surgeon, Eugen Steinach (1861–1944), was the most prominent promoter of this concept and popularized vasectomy for this purpose. Dr Sigmund Freud is believed to have had “Steinach Operation’ to improve his sexuality. It was thought that reabsorbing the sperm would result in more energy. 


Clay Sharp (1870–1940) was an American medical doctor and Eugenicist. (Eugenics is defined as improvement of human race by controlling human reproduction). While working as a physician at an Indiana state prison around the turn of the 20th century, Sharp performed some of the first vasectomies for the purposes of sterilization and helped popularize the procedure as an alternative to castration in an effort to both reduce criminal behaviour in those individuals and prevent the birth of future criminals.


It wasn't until after the Second World War that vasectomy took on its modern role as a voluntary means of birth control and family planning. The traditional vasectomy procedure gained popularity in 1970’s and in 1974 it was announced that vasectomy—along with all other major contraceptive methods—would be offered freely on the NHS. 

In 1974, the No-Scalpel method of vasectomy was developed by Dr. Li Shunqiang of the Chongqing Family Planning Research Institute, Sichuan province, China. Vasectomy was not popular with Chinese men. Dr. Shunqiang was looking for a way to perform the procedure that would be more readily acceptable to men and that could be easily performed in rural areas that have very limited medical procedures. He would go on to teach the procedure to visiting doctors and it would gain world-wide acceptance. By 1985, the first No-Scalpel Vasectomy was performed in the USA by Dr Marc Goldstein who travelled to China to study the procedure. Dr Laurel Spooner, past ASPC President, was trained to perform NSV by Dr Marc Goldstein and Dr Spooner, in turn, has trained many NSV vasectomy surgeons in the UK. Presently we call it Minimally Invasive Vasectomy (MIV) as there are now variations to NSV performed worldwide in terms of accessing the vas. In addition, there are several techniques of blocking the vas including Clips, Cauterisation and Fascial Interposition etc.


Finally, World Vasectomy Day (WVD) is a worldwide movement which raises awareness as well as promotes vasectomy as a safe, informed and responsible choice for family planning, aiming to reduce stigma and encourage men’s involvement. It is observed on the third Friday of November each year. WVD also organise quarterly seminars on vasectomy topics involving prominent vasectomists from around the world. Please check their website https://wvd.org for further information.



Prasun Kumar

ASPC Council Member


26th January 2024