What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is meant to be a permanent method of male contraception. It involves cutting both the tubes (vas) that carry sperm from your testicles. This prevents sperm from mixing with semen and reaching your penis (see figure 1). So a vasectomy should stop your partner getting pregnant.
What are the benefits of surgery?
As a vasectomy is meant to be permanent, you or your partner should no longer need to use another form of contraception.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
There are two common methods of contraception for women, which have a similarly low failure rate compared to a vasectomy.
- A coil or IUCD.
- Hormone implants.
Other methods of contraception include the oral contraceptive pill and female sterilisation. For men, the only safe form of contraception, other than a vasectomy, is to use a condom.
What does the operation involve?
A vasectomy is performed under a local or general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about a quarter of an hour.
Your surgeon will make two cuts on each side of your scrotum or just a single cut in the middle of your scrotum. They will cut the tubes that carry sperm from each testicle to your penis and then close the ends.
What complications can happen?
1. General complications of any operation
- Infection in the surgical wound or in the scrotum
2. Specific complications of this operation
- Becoming fertile again
- Long-term pain in the 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 the first few days.
You should be able to return to work after a couple of days. However, if your work involves strenuous physical activity, you may need to stay off work for about a week.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice. About three months after the operation your doctor will ask you to give two samples of your semen a few weeks apart. The samples will be tested to find out if there are any sperm left.
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.
Paying for your operation
Bilateral vasectomy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.
Author: Mr John Lemberger FRCS
Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM
Copyright © 2008 EIDO Healthcare Limited The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare. The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.