Vasectomy (sterilisation)

  • Over 99.5 % Effective
  • No STI Protection
  • Forever

What is a vasectomy (sterilisation)?

Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure which blocks the two tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm. After vasectomy you will still have erections and ejaculate (cum) but your semen will not contain sperm. This method of contraception is sometimes also called sterilisation or “the snip”.

Illustration of vasectomy

Local anaesthetic: a medicine used to numb a part of your body for a short while. You remain conscious.

General anaesthetic: a medicine used to make you unconscious. This is usually applied during surgery so you are not aware and unable to feel the pain.  

What happens when I have a vasectomy?

Two small cuts or punctures are made in the skin of your scrotum and the tubes that carry sperm (vas deferens) are blocked, either by cutting and tying them or sealing them using heat.

Vasectomy is usually done using local anaesthetic but can be done using general anaesthetic. You can usually go home the same day, but sometimes have to stay in hospital overnight

How effective is vasectomy?

Vasectomy is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is considered to last forever (permanent).

How does a vasectomy work?

For pregnancy to occur, sperm must fertilise a mature egg. After puberty, new sperm cells are constantly made in the testicles. Sperm travel out of the testicles by two tubes called the vas deferens. These tubes pass by the seminal vesicles and prostate which together, create semen (cum). Semen then passes into a single tube called the urethra and out of the penis. A vasectomy blocks the vas deferens, stopping sperm travelling into the semen. After a vasectomy, sperm stay in the testicles and are absorbed by the body. Semen is still created by the seminal vesicles and prostate but it does not contain sperm. This prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting the egg.

When does it start to be effective?

It takes around 3 months after a vasectomy before semen contains no sperm. To prevent pregnancy, you will need to avoid sex or use another form of contraception during this time.

Where can I get a vasectomy?

You will need to visit your doctor to organise a vasectomy. If they do not do this procedure themselves, they will refer you to another doctor who does. You can get a vasectomy done in a clinic, hospital or day surgery.

What stops a vasectomy from working?

It takes around 3 months from the time of the surgical procedure for a vasectomy to begin working to prevent pregnancy. It is important to have a sperm test to check this.

It is very uncommon for a vasectomy to stop working.

What is good about a vasectomy?

  • It is very effective.
  • It is a quick and simple procedure.
  • It is permanent (lasts forever).
  • Does not affect the amount, look or feel of your ejaculate or semen (cum).
  • Does not affect your ability to enjoy sex or reach orgasm.
  • It may allow your partner to stop using other types of contraception if they want to prevent pregnancy.

Are there any side effects from having a vasectomy?

  • You may have scarring, bruising, lumps or infection at the wound site.
  • It is usually painful for a few days.

Can a vasectomy cause any serious health problems?

Some people can have pain that lasts for months after the procedure, but this is rare.

Reasons why a vasectomy might not be a good option for you:

  • Think you might want children later.

You are more likely to want a vasectomy reversed if you:

  • are young (particularly aged under 30 years)
  • do not have any children
  • are having trouble with a current relationship.

What if I have sex before I know whether the vasectomy has worked?

You need to have a sperm test to make sure the vasectomy has worked. If you have unprotected sex before you are sure if the test worked and your partner is at risk of pregnancy, they might need emergency contraception.

What happens if my sexual partner gets pregnant after I have had a vasectomy?

The vasectomy will not harm the pregnancy. It is safe to continue the pregnancy or to have an abortion.

What if I have a vasectomy and my partner and I want a baby?

You can reverse a vasectomy, but it can be expensive. You have around a 50-60% chance of your partner getting pregnant by sex after reversal.

What else should I know about a vasectomy?

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Where to get more information and support

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Last updated: 11 June 2021