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Also known as 'male sterilisation', a vasectomy is performed during a minor operation where the tubes that carry sperm from a man's testicles to the penis are sealed, preventing sperm from mixing with the seminal fluid (semen) and being ejaculated during sex. A vasectomy is usually carried out under local anaesthetic, and takes about 15 minutes.
Facts about Vasectomy:
All male circumcisions at the Cadogan Clinic are performed by our award-winning Consultant Uro-Andrologist, Mr Giulio Garaffa who has over 20 years’ international medical experience in this area. Mr Garaffa has a global reputation for his excellence in urology and is one of the leading experts in vasectomy procedures.
A vasectomy is a quick and painless surgical procedure. The tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis are sealed. In most cases, you will be able to return home the same day.
Vasectomies at the Cadogan Clinic are carried out as a day case surgery under local anaesthetic. This means that only your scrotum and testicles will be numbed, and you will be awake for the procedure. You will not feel any pain, although it may feel slightly uncomfortable.
In rare cases, a general anaesthetic may be required. This means that you will be asleep during the procedure. A general anaesthetic may be used if you are allergic to local anaesthetic or have a history of fainting easily. However, most people will only need a local anaesthetic. Even if you do require a general anaesthetic, this will still be done as a day case procedure.
It's common to have some mild discomfort, swelling and bruising of your scrotum for a few days after the vasectomy. If you have pain or discomfort, you can take painkillers, such as paracetamol.
It's common to have blood in your semen in the first few ejaculations after a vasectomy. This isn't harmful.
It is advised that you wear close-fitting underwear, such as Y-fronts, to support your scrotum and help ease any discomfort or swelling. Make sure you change your underwear every day.
It is safe for you to have a bath or shower after your operation –make sure you dry your genital area gently and thoroughly.
Most men will be fit to return to work one or two days after their vasectomy, but you should avoid sport and heavy lifting for at least one week after the operation. This is to minimise the risk of developing complications.
You can have sex again as soon as it is comfortable to do so, although it is best to wait for a couple of days. However, you will still have sperm in your semen immediately after the operation, as it takes time to clear the remaining sperm in your tubes. It takes an average of 20-30 ejaculations to clear the tubes of sperm completely. You will need to use another method of contraception until you have had two clear semen tests.
Once the operation has been carried out successfully and semen tests have shown that there is no sperm present, long-term partners may not need to use other forms of contraception.
However, a vasectomy does not protect against HIV infection or any other STI's, so you should still use condoms with any new partner.
After the vasectomy, there will be some sperm left in the upper part of the vas deferens tubes. It can take more than 20 ejaculations to clear these sperm from the tubes so, during this time, there is still a risk of pregnancy. Until it has been confirmed that your semen is free of sperm, you should continue to use another form of contraception.
At least eight weeks after the procedure, you will need to produce a sample of semen, which will be tested for sperm. This will also help to identify the rare cases in which the tubes naturally re-join themselves. Once tests have confirmed that your semen is free of sperm, the vasectomy is considered successful and you can stop using additional contraception.
A few men continue to have small numbers of sperm in their system, but these sperm do not move (they are known as non-motile sperm). If you are one of these men, your doctor will discuss your options with you. The chances of making your partner pregnant may be low enough to consider the vasectomy successful, or you may be advised to have further tests or consider other options.
It is possible to have a vasectomy reversed. However, the procedure is not always successful. You have a better chance if it is done very soon after the vasectomy.
If a reversal is carried out within 10 years of your vasectomy, the success rate is about 55%. This falls to 25% if your reversal is carried out more than 10 years after your vasectomy.
Even if a surgeon manages to join up the vas deferens tubes again, pregnancy may still not be possible. This is why you should be certain before going ahead with the vasectomy.
- The failure rate is only one in 2,000 – out of 2,000 men who have a vasectomy, only one will get a woman pregnant in the rest of his lifetime.
- There are rarely long-term effects on your health.
- Vasectomy does not affect your hormone levels or sex drive.
- It will not affect the spontaneity of sex or interfere with sex.
- Vasectomy may be chosen as a simpler, safer and more reliable alternative to female sterilisation.
- You need to use contraception after the operation until tests show your semen is free of sperm – if your semen contains sperm, you could make your partner pregnant.
- Complications can occur –risks are rare, but can include long-term testicle pain, haematoma and infection.
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