Vasectomy is a minor procedure for male sterilisation. It remains one of the most effective forms of permanent birth control.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure to cut and ligate the vasa deferens, which are the small tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the prostate. These can be accessed easily via small (3mm) incisions in the scrotum. This may be done under either local or general anaesthesia.
Am I suitable for a vasectomy?
A vasectomy has to be considered an irreversible procedure. It is preferable that you are in a long term relationship and have completed your family unit.
What complications may occur?
Vasectomy is a straightforward procedure and serious complications are uncommon. It is not unusual to have some minor discomfort, bruising and swelling after the procedure. Less common complications which may occur include:
- Haematoma (blood clot) in the scrotum
- Post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS)
- Unwanted pregnancy
Am I sterile immediately after my vasectomy?
No, it takes time for the active sperm in your system to clear before you are sterile. This generally takes around 20 ejaculations or 2 months. It is mandatorythat you give a semen sample for analysis after 8-10 weeks to ensure you have no sperm in your ejaculate (azoospermia). Until this point, you and your partner will have to use an alternative method of contraception.
Can we have an unwanted pregnancy even if my semen analysis is clear?
Yes, but this is exceedingly rare. No form of contraception is 100% reliable. It is possible for the vas to rejoin over time, but this occurs in less than 0.1% of patients who have the procedure. Overall, vasectomy is much more effective than condoms, the oral contraceptive pill or tubal ligation.
Can my vasectomy be reversed?
A vasectomy reversal may be performed in many cases, but it does not always work. Therefore having a vasectomy has to be considered irreversible. The older your partner and the longer time from your vasectomy result in poorer outcomes for reversal.
What is post-vasectomy pain syndrome?
Post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) occurs in 10-15% of men after a vasectomy. It may cause aching, discomfort and sometimes more severe pain in the scrotum, even many years after the procedure. In most cases, this is only a mild discomfort and is well tolerated. In a small number of men, the pain can be quite debilitating and require intervention.