Vasectomy is a permanent form of contraception for men.
It is only suitable for men who are 100% sure they don't want children at any time in the future. Each year more than 18,000 men in the UK choose vasectomy as their method of contraception - because it is very safe and effective.
BPAS provides vasectomy on a self-funded basis and also has contracts with the NHS in some areas.
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 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy.
After vasectomy you still have erections and produce the same amount of semen when you ejaculate – the only difference is that your semen does not contain sperm. Sperm will continue to be produced but are naturally re-absorbed by the body.
Treatment is carried out by a highly trained doctor usually using local anaesthetic and taking around 15 minutes. There are two types of vasectomy; scalpel and non-scalpel. During the scalpel method, a small incision is made to the scrotum with a small sharp blade to access the tubes (vasa). The non-scalpel method uses either cautery or a special instrument to enter the scrotum.
For a couple of weeks after, most men experience discomfort and mild swelling, which can easily be managed with low dose painkillers.
Who can have a vasectomy?
Any man can choose to have a vasectomy, regardless of his circumstances. If you are in a relationship, we strongly advise you to talk this through with your partner. However if you decide to have a vasectomy, your partner's agreement is not required.
Vasectomy should only be considered if you are certain that you never want children at any time in the future, even if your circumstances change. If you are under 30 and have not yet had children, there may be a higher chance that in future, you will regret having a vasectomy.
You shouldn't consider having a vasectomy if you are under stress of any kind.
Sometimes consultation and medical assessment before BPAS vasectomy treatment is done by the NHS. If you are paying for your treatment yourself then this is done by BPAS. Consultation lasts about an hour. You will discuss your reasons for vasectomy, and what the alternatives are. You will be asked to complete a short medical questionnaire and will have a medical assessment.
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 conditions may affect the surgeon's ability to carry out a vasectomy safely – we will ask about any:
- 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
- Allergies to medications
- Medications you are currently using
We examine your scrotum during a brief physical examination, when we also record your height, weight and blood pressure.
Your appointment lasts about an hour.
How do I prepare for my treatment?
Bathe or shower on the day of your appointment.
What to wear
It is important to wear supportive underpants (NOT boxer shorts). Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your treatment appointment, 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 in our clinics.
Travelling to and from your appointment
You should not drive yourself home, so please make arrangements for this.
Local anaesthetic - eat and drink as normal.
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
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.
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.
Remember, you must not drive yourself home.
Rest for the remainder of the day of your operation.
What to expect after your vasectomy
As the anaesthetic wears off, most men do feel some discomfort, which may last for a few days. This can usually be controlled by non-prescription painkillers like paracetamol. Some slight swelling may occur the day after the vasectomy. This is normal. Any discomfort should disappear after a couple of weeks.
If you are worried about any aspect of your recovery, telephone your BPAS clinic or call the Aftercare line on 0300 333 68 28 as soon as possible. The Aftercare line is open 24 hours a day. Alternatively, you could contact your GP.
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.
Continue to wear supportive underpants until you feel comfortable, this would usually be a couple of weeks. You may have sex as soon as it is comfortable for you. This is usually 2 or 3 days after the operation.
Our Aftercare line is provided, by a healthcare organisation outside of BPAS but is closely monitored and follows our policies and procedures.
Dos 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.
- 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 testing kit
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. Before you leave the clinic, you should be given a date to send in the sample (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 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.