Male sterilisation (vasectomy) is a permanent method of contraception that's carried out on a man. Find how it's done, and what to expect.
A woman can get pregnant if a man’s sperm reaches one of her eggs (ova). Contraception tries to stop this happening by keeping the egg and sperm apart or by stopping egg production. One method of contraception is male sterilisation (vasectomy).
During a minor operation, the tubes that carry sperm from a man's testicles to the penis are cut, blocked or sealed with heat.
It's usually carried out under local anaesthetic, and takes about 15 minutes.
Sperm are prevented from reaching the seminal fluid (semen), which is ejaculated from the penis during sex. This means that there are no sperm in the semen, so a woman's egg can't be fertilised. Find out more about how a vasectomy is carried out.
The lifetime failure rate is about one in 2,000. This means that one out of 2,000 men who are sterilised will get a woman pregnant during the rest of his lifetime.
Male sterilisation is considered permanent. Once it's done, you don't have to think about contraception again.
Male sterilisation doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs),so use a condom to protect yourself and your partner against STIs.
If you have pain or discomfort, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, ibuprofen is not suitable if you have asthma, a history of stomach ulcers or kidney or liver problems. Contact your GP for advice if you are still experiencing considerable pain after taking painkillers.
Wearing close-fitting underwear, such as Y fronts, during the day and at night will help to support your scrotum and will also ease any discomfort or swelling. Make sure you change your underwear every day.
It is safe for you to bathe or shower after your operation, but make sure you dry your genital area gently and thoroughly.
Most men will be fit to return to work one or two days after their vasectomy, but should avoid sport and heavy lifting for at least one week after the operation, to minimise the risk of developing complications. If any symptoms continue after a few days, consult your GP.
You can have sex again as soon as it is comfortable to do so, although it is best to wait for a couple of days. However, you are not sterile immediately after the operation, as it takes time to clear the remaining sperm in your tubes. Until you have had two clear semen tests, you will still need another method of contraception.
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