A Vasectomy is a form of male contraception. It is a minor surgical procedure that is performed with the aim of preventing sperm from reaching the urethra.

How is a Vasectomy Performed?

A vasectomy is a day procedure and is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. Two small incisions are made in the skin of the scrotum to reach the vas deferens (the tube that carries the sperm from the testicle to the urethra). This tube is then divided and a small segment removed. Each end is cauterised and tied and some tissue placed between the two ends in order to minimise as much as is possible the risk of the tubes from ‘re-joining’ back together again. The skin is then closed with a small dissolvable stitch.

You are NOT immediately sterile after the procedure. This is because there is still sperm within the vas deferens that will need to be completely cleared prior to becoming sterile. This can take up to 3 months time. Sterility must be confirmed on a semen analysis before you can abandon other forms of contraception.

What are the Risks of a Vasectomy?

As with all procedures, there are risks (albeit small) associated with this procedure. These risks include:

  • Bleeding or haematoma
    • uncommon
  • Infection
    • rare
  • Sperm granuloma
    • 1-5%
    • a small collection of sperm that can be ‘felt’ within the scrotum and may be tender when palpated
    • does not require treatment in itself
  • Chronic scrotal pain
    • 1-2% – the cause of this is not well understood neither is its treatment well understood
  • Vasectomy failure
    • Rare
    • Can be immediate (if each of the vas deferens were not divided) or may be delayed (if the tubes re-join spontaneously)
How Do I Know if the Vasectomy has Been Successful?
What if I Change My Mind?
  • While a vasectomy can be reversed, a vasectomy should be regarded as an irreversible procedure
    • The success rate of unassisted natural conception after vasectomy reversal is lower than in men who have never had a vasectomy. The success rate is dependent on a number of factors but in particular on the number of years that have passed since the vasectomy
  • The decision to have a vasectomy, while a simple procedure in itself, should be given plenty of thought beforehand
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