BPAS provides vasectomy on a self-funded basis and also has contracts with the NHS in some areas.
Who can have a vasectomy?
Single, married, divorced, widowed, childless or with a family - any man can have a vasectomy, regardless of his circumstances.
Vasectomy is a safe and effective, permanent method of contraception. It should only be considered if you are sure that you never want children at any time in the future, even if your circumstances change. If you are aged under 30 and have not yet had children, there is a higher chance that in future, you will regret having a vasectomy. Vasectomy reversal is not routinely available on the NHS.
You shouldn't consider having a vasectomy if you are under stress, whether or not that stress relates to concerns about pregnancy or your relationship or anything else. If you are in a relationship, we strongly advise you to talk it through with your partner, even though their agreement is not required if you do choose to have a vasectomy.
Sperm travels through two tubes (vasa deferentia) during sex, and mixes with semen before ejaculation. Vasectomy is a minor operation to cut and tie or seal the tubes, so sperm are not released into the semen. Vasectomy is 99.95% effective at preventing pregnancy.
You still ejaculate but your semen does not contain sperm, so the risk of pregnancy is extremely low.
There are two types of vasectomy; scalpel and non-scalpel. BPAS offers non-scalpel vasectomy with local anaesthetic.
The main difference is that with the scalpel method a small incision is made in the scrotum with a small sharp blade to access the tubes (vasa), while the non-scalpel method uses either cautery or a special instrument to enter the scrotum. You will be given an anaesthetic so that you do not feel this.
Sometimes consultation and medical assessment before BPAS vasectomy treatment is done by the NHS. If you are paying for your treatment yourself, your consultation will be done by BPAS and will last about an hour. We will discuss your reasons for vasectomy, whether you are sure of your decision, and alternatives methods of contraception. You will be asked to complete a short medical questionnaire and will have a medical assessment.
Risks and complications
Significant, unavoidable or frequently occurring risks
- Sore and tender scrotum, minor bruising and swelling of scrotum
- Bleeding during procedure or after
- Blood clot in scrotum (haematoma)
- Sperm granuloma
- Chronic testicular pain (1-2% of men)
Failure of procedure or recanalisation in future
- The overall risk of failure is 1 in 2,000
- Failure at time of surgery or early recanalisation (rejoining) of the vas deferens occurs in 3.6 in 1,000 of cases
- Late failure of recanalisation (rejoining) of the vas deferens has been reported in 4-8 in 10,000 of cases
- Persistent non-motile sperm/need for special clearance
Extra procedures which may become necessary:
- Transfer to NHS facility to manage complication
- Repeat procedure if failed/recanalized
Other highly effective methods of reversible contraception are available. Please refer to our contraception pages for more information. Another method of permanent contraception is female sterilisation. However, vasectomy is quicker to perform and is associated with fewer complications than female sterilisation.
A healthcare professional will ask you about your medical history. It's important to answer these questions as accurately as possible.
Relevant medical history
Some aspects of your medical history affect the surgeon's ability to carry out a vasectomy safely – we will ask about:
- Bleeding problems
- Other medical conditions (such as diabetes)
- Past history of injury to your scrotum or groin (such as a hernia operation)
- History of sexually transmitted infections
- Erection or ejaculation problems
- whether you have a cardiac pacemaker
- Allergies to medications
- Any medications you currently use
We examine your scrotum during a brief physical examination, and we record your height, weight and blood pressure.
We explain the associated risks and complications and answer your questions about the procedure. Once this is all completed we ask you to sign a consent form and give you a copy
Your appointment lasts about an hour. You may eat a light meal and drink before your treatment appointment. Do not drink alcohol.
How do I prepare for my treatment?
Bathe or shower on the day of your appointment. If instructed, please shave the area. Do not use hair removal cream as it may irritate the skin.
Metal body piercings
Metal body piercings close to the surgical site must be removed before surgery, all other piercings should be removed if possible.
What to wear
Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your treatment appointment. It is important to wear supportive underpants (NOT boxer shorts) and a t-shirt or polo shirt.
What should I bring with me?
Bring any medicines you are taking (or the prescription) so that we can record this in your notes.
Can I bring somebody with me?
Yes, but space is limited so please bring only one friend or relative with you. There are no facilities for children so please make arrangements for childcare. However, if that is difficult for you please inform the advisor when booking the appointment.
Travelling to and from your appointment
We advise you not to drive yourself home, after treatment. If you have no other transportation options than driving yourself home, please tell your healthcare professional as soon as you can. We will then discuss the potential risks of driving directly following treatment.
You may eat and drink before your appointment - no alcohol.
On the day of treatment
A BPAS member of staff will ask you to confirm your details and you will wait in the pre-operative area, probably alongside other men having a vasectomy, until the surgeon is ready for you.
You will go into theatre or a treatment room to undress and get onto a treatment couch.
The surgeon will ensure that you are fit for surgery by:
- Checking your paperwork has been fully completed
- Rechecking your medical history
- Ensuring you want to go ahead with the vasectomy
- Examining your testicles to ensure they can easily locate the vas deferens
- Advising whether shaving is necessary
The BPAS surgeon reserves the right to delay the procedure if he/she feels the conditions are not appropriate (for example if you have an infection).
After all of the above steps are complete your vasectomy procedure will take place.
Once the procedure is completed a BPAS nurse will walk you into a recovery room where you can relax with a tea or coffee until you are ready to leave the clinic.
Almost all vasectomies are done with local anaesthetic which lessens the sensation in a part of the body. You are awake but will feel no pain. The doctor injects local anaesthetic into the skin at the side of your scrotum. It is not injected into your testicles. You may feel a pulling or tugging sensation during the procedure.
Leaving the centre
A healthcare professional will ensure you are fit to leave by going through some simple questions and examining the operative site. If everything is OK you will be discharged. You will be given a testing kit for semen analysis.
After your operation, rest for the remainder of the day.
If you are worried about any aspect of your recovery, telephone your BPAS clinic or call 0300 333 68 28 as soon as possible. This line is open 24 hours a day. Alternatively, you could contact your GP.
What to expect after your vasectomy
As the anaesthetic wears off, most men do feel some discomfort, which may last for a few days and up to 2 weeks. This can usually be controlled by non-prescription anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, you can take paracetamol. Some slight swelling may occur the day after the vasectomy. This is normal. Any discomfort should disappear after a couple of weeks.
Keep the dressing in place until the following evening when you should have a bath or shower. You will not need the dressing after this and a daily bath or shower will keep the area clean and help the stitches dissolve.
Clear fluid oozing from the wound can sometimes occur. You may wish to buy sterile cotton gauze from the chemist and put it in your underwear to protect the incision.
Wear tight underpants or an athletic support for the first few days following the procedure, including the night for the initial 48 hours or longer according to symptoms.
You may have sex as soon as it is comfortable for you. We recommend that you abstain for at least 2 days after your procedure.
Our Aftercare line is provided, by another healthcare organisation which is closely monitored and follows BPAS policies and procedures.
Do's and Don'ts
- Relax at home, taking a few days off work if necessary
- Take care when showering or taking a bath for about 2 weeks - clean the area gently.
- Contact BPAS if you are concerned following the procedure or if you experience: persistent bleeding, pain, fever, pus at the wound, or rapid swelling on one or both sides of the scrotum (which could indicate bleeding).
- Do anything strenuous, including heavy lifting or driving long distances, for up to 2 weeks
- Play any sports (including going to the gym) for at least 2 weeks
Follow-up semen analysis
Before you leave the clinic after your vasectomy, you will be given a semen testing kit, which you will need to submit before BPAS can confirm the operation has been successful.
Until you receive the all clear, you cannot consider your vasectomy complete.
- Your semen sample should be sent no sooner than 12 weeks and 20 ejaculations after the procedure. You should be given a date to send in the sample before you leave the clinic (the date will be written at the front of your vasectomy guide).
- Do not ejaculate for at least 48 hours but no more than 7 days before giving each sample.
- Mark the containers with your name, date of birth and client number (shown at the front of your vasectomy booklet).
- Collect your sample by ejaculating into one of the containers provided.
- Complete the details on the return slip and place the container and the return slip into the prepaid postal envelope provided.
- Post immediately.
BPAS will contact you with the results after the sample has been processed.
Getting the all clear
You must use another form of contraception until you get the all clear from us
We will send you written confirmation that your vasectomy has been successful if the sample we receive is sperm-free. If not, you will need to provide further samples. If you have infrequent sex, masturbation will help clear the sperm.
It can take up to 7 months before some men get the all clear.
On very rare occasions, a small number of immobile sperm remain in the sample. No pregnancies have been reported in these rare cases. If this happens, you will be given a ‘special clearance' letter that confirms that the procedure was successful.