What you need to know about vasectomies

Vasectomy is a highly effective, permanent method of contraception. It involves a minor procedure, carried out under local anaesthetic. It takes about 15 minutes.

The procedure blocks the tube (called the vas deferens) that takes sperm from the testicle to the penis. After you’ve had a vasectomy, you’ll still ejaculate when you orgasm, but it won’t contain sperm.

Also known as

  • the snip

This is a permanent, effective method of contraception that requires a very minor operation and does not affect your sex drive or how you have sex.

Dr Paula Baraitser. Medical Director, SH:24

A vasectomy is a good option if...

  • you're sure you don't want children in the future

  • you don't like the inconvenience of other methods of contraception

  • you're willing to have a small operation

Vasectomy is not recommended if...

  • you might want children in the future – regret is the most common reason people want to reverse their vasectomy, and it can be difficult to do so successfully (worldwide, about 2% of people who have vasectomies get them reversed within 10 years of the procedure)

  • you’re under 30 years old – regret is more common in people who have a vasectomy under the age of 30

  • you want your contraception to protect you from STIs too – a vasectomy does not protect you against them

  • you have an existing problem affecting your testicles – this can include hydroceles, an undescended testis, or a hernia

Is a vasectomy right for you?

To decide if a vasectomy is right for you, you’ll need to balance the advantages and disadvantages for you, your health and your lifestyle.

If your circumstances, relationships and sex life change, then you might change your mind about your vasectomy too.

It’s good to read about different types of contraception and talk about your options with different people.

12 weeks after the vasectomy, you’ll need to provide a sample of semen to check that all sperm have gone.

If the sample comes back with no sperm, then you can stop using other contraception, such as condoms, at that point.

Real contraception experiences

I had mine 2 years ago and everything is normal, no issues and no need to worry about contraception.

It has a high success rate

Over 99% of vasectomies are successful.

If it fails, it’s usually because the cut tube has reconnected after the operation. This usually happens before the 12-week semen test so it's often noticed during that check-up.

Failure after the 12-week semen test is very rare (1 in 2,000 vasectomies).

Did you know?

Vasectomy is less popular now than in the past. There was a decline in the number of people having vasectomies up until 2015/16. The number fell by 50% between 2008/9 and 2014/15.

Since then, between 11,000 and 12,000 people a year have had the procedure. This could be because other long-term methods of contraception like the coil and the implant have become more popular.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.