Vasectomy is the common method of sterilisation in men and should be considered permanent. It is an operation in which the two “vas” tubes (the vas deferens) are cut and tied. This blocks the flow of sperm from the testicles into the penis, so that when the man ejaculates the semen does not contain sperm. There is no change to the volume and appearance of the semen.

Any man may have a vasectomy, irrespective of age, marital status or childlessness. Counselling is available before a procedure to discuss options. You do not require anyone else’s consent nor do you need referral from a doctor.

This simple operation, which can be performed under a local anaesthetic (awake) or with local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation (asleep), usually takes about 30 minutes. It is done through a small “key-hole” in the skin overlying the vas deferens (scrotum). A special instrument is used instead of a scalpel to minimise the ‘invasiveness” of the procedure. The `vas’ tube, which lies just below the skin, is picked up and cut and sealed at both ends or one end is left open.

The consultation and procedure will take approximately one hour if you have local anaesthetic. However should you choose to have sedation, expect to be with us for approximately two hours, and you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You will not be able to drive for 12 hours after sedation.

You should rest for the remainder of the day after the procedure. You may go back to work the next day if you have a “sit-down” job but may need at least one week off work if you have a “physical” job. Contact sports should be avoided for four weeks. If you have intravenous sedation with your procedure, you cannot drive a motor vehicle for at least 12 hours.

As with any medical procedure, side effects may occur and you will be given comprehensive information about side effects and aftercare before your procedure. Major side effects are uncommon, however bruising and swelling are common problems but settle after about two days. Bleeding and infection occur sometimes, but they settle quickly with treatment.

Vasectomy is reliable because every precaution is taken to separate the tubes so that they do not rejoin. The failure rate is about one in 5,000 after the first negative sperm count.

No. It takes about 15 to 20 ejaculations to clear all the sperm from the tubes above the cut. At three months after the operation it is necessary to have one or two (preferably two) sperm counts to make sure the semen has no sperm. The semen has to be collected either by masturbation, intercourse then withdrawal, or by emptying the contents from a condom into a specimen jar. Then it is examined under a microscope to ensure the success of the vasectomy. It needs to be delivered to the laboratory within two hours.

Sperm are still produced in the testicles but lie around in the blocked tube for about three weeks before dissolving and being absorbed into the body in a similar way to blood after a bruise. Sperm only make up about one percent of the fluid ejaculated.

No. It makes no difference to a man’s sex drive and performance. Some say that their sex life is improved because the worry about contraception is removed. Despite the absence of sperm in the semen, the fluid ejaculated seems normal because most of it is produced high in the tubes at the base of the penis. Normal sexual activity can be started when you feel comfortable after the vasectomy, but it is important to use some form of contraception until the sperm count is zero. Testosterone, the male hormone produced by the testicles, is not affected by having a vasectomy.

The cut tubes may be rejoined by microsurgery but there is no guarantee of regaining fertility. About 50 to 80 percent of vasectomy reversals lead to successful pregnancy (depending on the surgeon). As a general rule vasectomy should be regarded as permanent and irreversible. It is important to be definite about the decision to have the operation and not to have it under pressure.

One option to consider is storage of sperm. Sperm can be stored at very low temperatures while still maintaining reasonable sperm quality. The knowledge that sperm may be stored for future insemination of a partner may be reassuring, and a reasonable “insurance policy” for couples considering vasectomy. There are costs associated with sperm storage – they are approximately $190.00 for initial visit and 6 month storage then $330.00 per year thereafter. Sperm can be stored indefinitely.

No. However, we do encourage developing a relationship with a general practitioner for any future health issues, but if you feel uncomfortable discussing your vasectomy with your GP, then you may refer yourself to us.