We take a look at all things vasectomy, including how it works, how to decide if it's the right choice for you, and male vasectomy and vasectomy reversal success rates.
What happens to a man when he gets a vasectomy?
A male vasectomy works by stopping sperm from reaching the semen. Semen is what is released when a man ejaculates. If there is no sperm in your semen, it means it can't fertilise a woman's egg.
So, vasectomy blocks or seals off the tubes that carry sperm to the penis, meaning a man cannot get a woman pregnant through sex.
Is a male vasectomy painful?
Many men worry they will be in intense pain if they have a vasectomy, but it shouldn't be too bad at all. It's a relatively minor procedure that only takes around 15 minutes.
That doesn't mean it's completely pain-free. You'll probably flinch when they insert the anaesthetic, and when it wears off you'll probably feel a bit sore. Side effects might include some swelling and bruising. But this should only last a few days.
What should I expect from the operation?
During vasectomy surgery, your consultant will make a small incision in your scrotum and then cut, tie or seal the two tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm to your testicles. This is done under local anaesthesia.
You’ll be able to go home straight afterwards but will need to rest for a couple of days. You should avoid any strenuous activities for a couple of weeks to allow the area to heal properly.
Many men are able to return to work after a day or so, although if your job involves any physical activity you will need to take a week off.
Is there such thing as a no-scalpel vasectomy?
If the thought of the scalpel is making you think twice, you might want to consider a form of surgery that doesn’t make a cut in your scrotum.
In a ‘no-scalpel’ vasectomy your consultant is able to tie or seal your vas tubes with access via a small hole made by a special instrument. No stitches will be needed and it is considered to be less painful than a conventional vasectomy.
Is a vasectomy the right choice for me?
There are many reasons why you might choose to have a vasectomy.
Many couples decide that their family is perfect just the way it is, whether because they already have children or decide they don't want kids.
In this case, vasectomy is chosen to prevent pregnancy, so that they are not caught out by a surprise down the line.
Whatever your reasons, a vasectomy is a very safe procedure. The vasectomy success rate is more than 99%.1
For most people, the main appeal is that you can relax and not worry about birth control or pregnancy scares for the long term.
Will sex be different after a vasectomy?
Sex should be exactly the same after the operation. Men commonly ask, 'will I still be able to ejaculate after a vasectomy?'. The answer is yes. Sexual performance, desire, sensation and ejaculation are not altered.
Some people actually find they enjoy sex more because they can relax, knowing contraception is no longer an issue.
What is a vasectomy reversal?
Vasectomy is offered as a permanent form of male sterilization. When done correctly it leads to male infertility.
However, life isn't straightforward, and some men find their circumstances change (for example if they are with a new female partner) and they actually do want children (or more children).
In this case, it is possible to have a vasectomy reversal procedure, where the vas deferens tubes are reconnected. This can restore the sperm count and therefore fertility.
What is the vasectomy reversal success rate?
A vasectomy reversal is a more complicated procedure than a vasectomy and it also has a lower success rate.
The operation will be done under general anaesthetic and lasts around two hours. Your surgeon will re-join the cut tubes on both sides in the hope that sperm will once again go into your semen.
Unfortunately, this does not always work. The success rate is about 75% if you have your reversal within three years, and up to 55% between three and eight years. After that, the chance of success continues to drop.2
Even after a successful reversal, pregnancy rates are lower in couples where the man has had a vasectomy procedure. Your sperm may be less mobile than previously.
To book your consultation call us on 0808 101 0337
2NHS; vasectomy reversal