What you need to know about getting a vasectomy

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a minor surgery that prevents sperm travelling from the testicles to the penis by cutting the tubes that connect them. This quick and simple procedure is a method of male contraception that is 99% effective. It can also be very cost effective compared to other contraceptive methods and will allow you and your partner to stop using other contraceptive methods.

Why might you need a vasectomy?

This procedure is an elective surgery performed when you and your partner have decided that your family is complete or that you do not want children. It is a safe, effective and permanent method of contraception.

General procedure

The procedure is usually performed under local or general anaesthetic and is done in about 15-30 minutes. A vasectomy can be performed via the scalpel or no-scalpel method. If the surgeon uses the scalpel method, a one to two centimetre incision will be made on either side of the scrotum to access the tubes. If the no-scalpel method is used, a sharp instrument will be used to pierce the skin over the tubes so that they are accessible. After the first step in either method is completed and the tubes have been located, they will be cut and a small piece of tissue removed. The ends of the tubes will then be sealed with a stitch or with heat. Both of these methods are equally effective.

Post-op care

The recovery time with either vasectomy method is the same. Afterwards you may experience bruising, lumps or scarring at the wound site. You may also experience pain however this is only expected to last a few days. It is important to note that it can take up to three months for a vasectomy to become effective so other forms of contraception should be used until then. One in five men may also take longer for the sperm to clear. As such you will need to continue sperm tests every few months to ensure that the vasectomy has become effective before stopping the use of other contraceptives.