Vasectomy is permanent contraception or sterilisation. This page explains how the vasectomy works and tells you how to get one.
What is a vasectomy?
When you ejaculate (cum) the fluid or semen from your penis contains sperm.
Sperm are made in your testicles (balls) and travel up your vas deferens (tubes) to mix with your semen. These are the tubes that are cut and tied when you have a vasectomy.
After a vasectomy there are no sperm in your semen. Your testicles still make sperm but they are absorbed by your body.
Where is it done?
A vasectomy is a simple operation.
It can be done at doctors’ surgeries or hospitals. The doctor or a vasectomy counsellor will explain the operation and answer questions you or your partner may have.
If you decide to go ahead, an appointment will be made for the operation.
How is it done?
In no-scalpel vasectomy the doctor feels the tubes under the skin and holds them in place with a small clamp.
The doctor makes one tiny puncture with a special instrument. The same instrument is used to gently stretch the opening so the tubes can be reached.
The tube is brought to the surface through the small opening. Different doctors use different techniques but all are designed to ensure the two ends of the cut tubes remain separate.
The second tube is treated in the same way through the same hole. There is very little bleeding with this technique.
No stitches are needed to close the opening, which heals quickly without leaving a scar.
How can I take care of myself after the operation?
You will be given detailed instructions at the time of the operation.
- You can expect some soreness and bruising for a few days.
- Plan to stay home and rest.
- Ask the doctor about pain relief.
- You can probably return to light work after two days.
- Avoid heavy lifting, exercise or sexual intercourse for seven to 10 days.
- You can have sex after two to three days if it is comfortable but remember you still need contraception.
When is the operation effective?
If you are having penis in vagina sex, your partner will not be protected from pregnancy until semen samples are sperm free.
Your doctor will arrange the tests. They are done three months (or 16 ejaculations whichever comes first) after the vasectomy. Until then you will need to use another method of contraception/ārai hapū.
Can it affect my sexuality?
After a vasectomy you will still have erections and orgasms.
You ejaculate about the same amount of semen but it no longer contains sperm.
Your hormones do not change.
Your sex drive and ability to have sex do not change.
The only change is that you cannot father a child. If you consider your decision carefully and do not feel pressured by anyone, you are unlikely to regret your choice.
Is the operation always successful?
Vasectomy is a very effective method of contraception.
Overall, 1 in 300 may fail. After you have had negative sperm counts the chance of failure drops to 1 in 2000.
Is a vasectomy reversible?
It is not always possible to reverse a vasectomy.
Many factors can affect the success rate of a reversal. On average, 50 percent of reversals result in a pregnancy.
Sometimes a person can develop antibodies to their own sperm after a vasectomy. This may make pregnancy after reversal less likely.
A second option after vasectomy is direct retrieval of sperm from the testicle, then in vitro fertilisation to achieve pregnancy.
Another option is to freeze some of your sperm so they can be used later.
If this is something you would like to consider, talk it over with your doctor or vasectomy counsellor before your operation.
What are the possible complications?
Infection is uncommon and is not usually serious. Internal bleeding may cause swelling and pain.
A painful lump may form in the scrotum where the operation was done. The pain usually disappears in a few weeks.
Intermittent long term scrotal pain is possible, but very rare.
Are there any long term health risks?
Research shows no association between vasectomy, heart disease, or cancer of the testicles or prostate.
Why should I choose vasectomy?
If you don’t want any, or any more children or you have decided you cannot have any, or any more children because of you or your partner's mental or physical health, age or income, vasectomy is a simpler operation than tubal ligation.
Before having a vasectomy you should consider whether if one of your children died, you would want another, or if your present relationship ended, you would want to have a child with a new partner.
Do I need to have consent from anyone?
It is recommended that you discuss sterilisation fully with your partner. This is because you are both affected by the decision.
However, it is not a legal requirement for your partner to give consent. You can choose a vasectomy if you have no partner or if you have no children.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.