What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a permanent method of male contraception. It involves cutting both the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from your testicles. This prevents sperm from mixing with semen and reaching your penis (see figure 1). So a vasectomy should prevent your partner from becoming pregnant.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You or your partner should not need to use another method of contraception.

Are there any alternatives to a vasectomy?

The only other method of male contraception is to use a condom.

A sterilisation is a permanent method of female contraception which involves blocking both fallopian tubes.

Other non-permanent methods of female contraception include hormone implants, a coil or intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUCD), and the oral contraceptive pill.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a local or general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Your surgeon will usually make one small cut on each side of your scrotum. Sometimes they will make a single cut on the middle of your scrotum. Your surgeon will cut the tubes that carry sperm from each testicle to your penis and close the ends.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound) or in your scrotum

2 Specific complications

  • Becoming fertile again
  • Long-term pain in your testicles
  • Congestive epididymitis
  • Sperm granuloma

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Your testicles will probably ache for a few days.

You should be able to return to work after about two days (about a week if your work involves strenuous exercise).

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Your doctor will ask you to give one or two samples of your semen after you have ejaculated 20 times following the operation. The samples will be tested to find out if there are any sperm left.

Summary

A vasectomy is an operation to cut the tubes that carry sperm from your testicles. It is a permanent and effective method of male contraception.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr John Lemberger FRCS

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com

 

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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