A vasectomy or male sterilisation is a common and effective form of contraception and family planning. Read about the procedure, costs, the pros and cons of vasectomy.
What is a vasectomy?
Vasectomy is an operation for men which provides a permanent form of contraception, known as sterilisation. Vasectomy involves the cutting of the vas deferens.
How does male sterilisation work?
Sperm is made in the male testicles and travels along the vas deferens (a tube which passes from the testicles to the urethra, which then goes to the end of the penis) to mix with a fluid called semen during ejaculation. The vas deferens is cut in a vasectomy, therefore the sperm do not mix with the semen – ejaculation still takes place but there are no sperm in the semen. The sperm will still be produced in the testicles, but will be absorbed by the body.
Most people stay awake and have a local anaesthetic injection prior to the procedure. You can also ask for a mild sedative. If you require a general anaesthetic you will need to be referred to hospital.
There are two methods of performing a vasectomy procedure – ask your health professional for information on these. One involves a small incision (traditional method) and the other involves one tiny puncture (no scalpel method). In both methods the vas deferens is cut, a small piece of the vas deferens is removed and the two ends are closed off separately.
Following the operation you may feel slightly sore and bruised for a few days. You may have sexual intercourse again as soon as you feel comfortable. You will be advised to avoid heavy lifting for a few days.
Where can you get a vasectomy done?
As a vasectomy is a simple operation it can be performed in doctor’s surgeries, Family Planning Clinics (FPCs) or in hospitals.
How much do vasectomies cost?
At a private clinic you could expect to pay $350-450 for a vasectomy in NZ. Talk to your GP or FPC to see what is available in your area and how prices compare.
What is the success rate of vasectomy?
Initially you will need to use another form of contraception, such as condoms, as your partner will not be protected from pregnancy until you have provided 2 samples of semen that are sperm free. Usually this is 2-3 months later.
The vasectomy will not affect your sex drive, your ability to have an erection or to ejaculate. It does mean that you cannot father a child (at least without significant further cost and complications for a reversal, and even then, this may not be successful).
The overall failure rate of vasectomies is 1 in 300 – but this falls to 1 in 1000 after 2 clear semen tests.
Vasectomies do not protect against sexually transmitted disease or infection (STI). Condoms and lubricant need to be used in conjunction with vasectomies to prevent the spread of STIs.
What are the risks of male sterilisation?
- Infection is a possible complication – although rare and usually mild.
- Internal bleeding could cause swelling and pain.
- Initial pain and long term pain are possible, but rare. Speak to your health professional for further advice on this.
It is possible to regret a vasectomy later – if you change partners, or if you lose a child. Consider all options and discuss these with your partner before choosing a vasectomy. Although your partner does not need to sign consent for you to have a vasectomy, it is preferable that you both believe it is the best option.
What are the pros?
- There are no associations between this operation and any long term health problems, such as cancer of the prostate or testicles.
- It is a simpler operation than female sterilisation.
What are the cons?
This is a permanent form of contraception. Although a reversal operation is available the success rate (number of pregnancies after reversal) is only 50%.
Consider your options carefully before choosing a vasectomy.
Useful articles related to vasectomy
For more information on Condoms, click here
To compare this with Tubal Ligation – Female Sterilisation, click here