Everything you should know about getting a vasectomy

Are you considering a vasectomy? You might have questions about the vasectomy procedure for male fertility control, so we’ve compiled our patients' most commonly asked questions. For comprehensive information, please contact us to learn more about your vasectomy in Adelaide or your vasectomy in Mackay.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is the surgical procedure for permanent male sterilisation. It is an effective and permanent way to prevent pregnancy, and suits men who are certain they don’t want future children. Vasectomies don’t have any lasting effects on sexual activity or performance, and the procedure is easier and less expensive than female sterilisation.

About five per cent of married men of reproductive age have vasectomies.

The vasectomy procedure involves cutting the vans deferens; the reserve of sperm in the seminal vesicles gradually depletes over about eight weeks before infertility is achieved, which is confirmed with a pathology test.

Why do men get vasectomies?

There are many reasons why men might choose to get a vasectomy. Vasectomies:

  • Are highly effective: Vasectomies prevent pregnancies 99.85 per cent of the time.
  • Are permanent: After undergoing a vasectomy, couples no longer need to use birth control.
  • Are safe: A vasectomy has no long-term effects on your health and does not alter your hormones.
  • Don’t affect sex drive: Testosterone levels are unchanged, so hormones and sex drive are unaltered.
  • Have a quick recovery period: Only a few days off work are required, with full recovery typically within a few weeks.
  • Are almost painless: Vasectomies are performed with local anaesthetic, and mild discomfort is easily managed.

What happens during a vasectomy?

You will remain awake throughout the procedure and receive pain relief via local anaesthetic. The doctor will make a very small incision into the scrotum using a scalpel to cut the vas deferens, then the incision site is stitched.

A non-scalpel vasectomy is a little bit different. Using this method, the vas deferens (ducts that carry sperm from the testicles to the urethra) are held with a clamp from outside the scrotum and a needle is used to make a small hole in the scrotum for access to the ducts. Two to three centimetres of tube are removed from each side. The top ends of the tubes are cauterised, and the bottom ends are left open. The non-scalpel method results in less bleeding and a faster recovery while being just as effective as a conventional vasectomy.

Are vasectomies painful?

Men generally tolerate the operation very well and are surprised how little pain they endured. Pain relief is via local anaesthetic. It is prudent to rest for the first 24 hours and then take things quietly for the next two days. Some pain over these three days is not unusual and you may use simple analgesia such as paracetamol or codeine for pain relief.

How long does a vasectomy take?

Vasectomy procedures usually take about 10 to 30 minutes.

Can I eat and drink before a vasectomy?

Yes, you can eat and drink as normal before a vasectomy.

Do I need to shave before a vasectomy?

You should shave the whole area including above and below, so the hair does not get in the way. (Do not use hair removal cream as it will burn.)

What is the recovery period after a vasectomy? 

You will receive a script for painkillers, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Some swelling, bruising and pain is normal. You do not need to use antiseptic creams or lotions. You can shower as normal. Do not go swimming. Avoid lifting and strenuous activity for a few days. Take about three days off and do nothing. A lot of healing takes place quickly, so leave the site undisturbed. Sexual activity can resume when you feel comfortable. The stitches are dissolvable so you can expect them to disappear in about one week.

How long after a vasectomy will I become sterile?

In about two months, you will send in a semen sample. Semen samples must be sent for testing until they are clear. You must use another form of contraception until confirmation of a zero sperm count on your semen analysis.

Can a vasectomy be reversed?

You should consider a vasectomy as non-reversible as we cannot guarantee that an individual can undergo reversal successfully. In general, reversal is successful in the first 10 years after vasectomy, but the success rate drops after that. You should ask your GP for a referral to see an appropriate surgeon for reversal. Using IVF techniques, one sperm obtained by testicular biopsy can be injected into an egg to achieve pregnancy. The cost of vasectomy reversal is several thousand dollars.

Will a vasectomy affect my sexual performance?

No, a vasectomy will not affect libido, sex drive or testosterone. The purpose of the procedure is simply to prevent semen travel.

Will a vasectomy damage my sexual organs?

No. The vasectomy procedure is directed toward the vas deferens tube and doesn't involve any other sexual organ or tissue.