About the procedure

You’ll need a referral to a surgeon, usually a urologist, from either your GP or local sexual health clinic. The surgeon will do your operation.

To get a vasectomy:

Pre-procedure counselling

Before getting the operation, you’ll usually have to go to a counselling appointment, sometimes called an assessment appointment. If you have a partner, you can both attend the meeting.

During the appointment, a nurse or doctor will talk to you about the operation. The appointment could include a genital examination, to make sure there’s nothing unusual in the testicles and scrotum, and that the vas deferens (sperm duct) is easy to access.

They should also talk to you about:

  • why you’re choosing a vasectomy over other contraception methods

  • your medical history

  • the need for contraception while waiting for the vasectomy procedure and in the 12 weeks before the semen test

  • the fact that this is a permanent method of contraception

They will explain the procedure fully – including possible complications – and give written information about the operation.

Preparing for the procedure

You’ll need to take a couple of days to recover after the operation. You can expect some bruising after.

If you’re going to drive to your appointment, you might want to arrange for someone else to get you home. Or book a taxi in advance.

How the surgery works

After giving a local anaesthetic, the surgeon operates by making either:

  • a small puncture hole – the more common minimally invasive technique


  • a tiny cut – about 5mm – in the skin of the scrotum

The surgeon finds the vas deferens – the tube that takes sperm from the testicle to the prostate. Then the tube is either tied shut, or a section of it is removed.

It takes 15 minutes for the procedure itself.

After the procedure

You should rest on the day of the operation and you can expect some bruising or tenderness for a few days after.

80% of people return to normal activities, including exercising as usual, within a week of the procedure.

It doesn’t affect your sex drive, your ability to enjoy sex, have an erection or ejaculate.

Post-vasectomy care

Most surgeons recommend you wear tight-fitting underwear during the day and night for the first few days, to give the testicles some gentle support.

You can return to work 1–2 days after a vasectomy, but you should avoid heavy lifting or sports for 7 days.

You can have sex as soon as it’s comfortable to do so. It’s normal to have blood in your semen the first few times you ejaculate after a vasectomy.

Real contraception experiences

Maybe I’ve been lucky but had the procedure a week ago and today I am walking around as though nothing had happened. 2 days after the operation I was 90% normal with very little pain or discomfort without any medications. I’ve had no swelling. I thought the injection was the worst thing but no worse than the dentist and the next day I was a bit uncomfortable and took it easy all day.

How quickly is it effective?

You’ll need to use additional contraception for 12 weeks after the operation. All the sperm that’s ‘downstream’ of the blockage or cut, and on its way to the prostate, needs to be used up.

You’ll need to provide a sample after 12 weeks

After 12 weeks, you’ll provide a semen sample to check that all sperm have gone.

You’ll be asked to provide a sample by masturbating at home and posting the sample to the lab. Or you can use a private room at a lab or clinic to provide your sample.

If tests show there’s no sperm in the sample, you can stop using additional contraception.

Can it be reversed?

You can have the procedure reversed if you change your mind, but reversal cannot be done on the NHS. You will need to pay for it to be done privately.

It can be difficult to reverse a vasectomy as sometimes the procedure creates scar tissue that blocks the tubes. The longer ago you had the procedure, the more scar tissue there will be and the harder it is to reverse successfully.

Success rates are based on the number of people who have successfully had a baby after a vasectomy reversal. The success rate drops from 75% after 3 years – down to less than 10% success after 20 years following the procedure.

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