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On this page:

1. Overview

Vasectomy is the operation for male sterilisation. Vasectomy is a safe, simple and effective operation. It is performed under local anaesthetic (you are awake). We use a “no-scalpel” technique through a small incision. This means stitches are not normally required.

You should only have a vasectomy if you are certain that you do not want more children. You and your partner must be sure that your family is complete. You should consider that the operation is permanent and irreversible. If you have any doubts you should delay the operation.

2. What to expect

Before the operation

We will see you in a clinic to explain the operation in more detail and answer any questions. If you are happy to go ahead you will sign a consent form. We will then make arrangements for the operation (usually within 1 month). Please let us know if you are taking any blood thinning drugs (aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel) and if you have any allergies.

On the day

You can have a light meal 2 hours before the operation. Please have a bath or shower, remove jewellery and trim the hair on the front of the scrotum.

About the operation

The operation prevents sperm produced in the testes from being present in the ejaculation fluid. This is done by sealing the sperm-carrying tubes (vas deferens) which go from the testis to the prostate gland.

The doctor injects a small amount of local anaesthetic into the skin of the scrotum(the sac holding the testicles). This numbs the area so that a very small incision can be made. The vas is found. The ends are sealed using a cautery. The vas is then replaced in the scrotum.

The procedure is repeated on the other side. Usually no stitches are needed.

Diagram showing where the sperm-carrying tubes (vas deferens) are cauterised.

After the operation

  • You should not work the day of the operation or the day after.
  • After the operation you should not drive home nor for the rest of the day.
  • We advise you to rest when you get home. You can walk around slowly but do not do anything too active. Over the next few days you can do more.
  • Often there is discomfort for the first week, so you should make sure that you have some paracetamol, ibuprofen or similar painkiller at home. Some men get mild bruising which settles with time.
  • It is worth wearing some tight fitting underpants for a few days for support.
  • You can have a bath after 48 hours.
  • You can return to work in 2-3 days but should avoid heavy lifting for 4-5 days so you need to make arrangements with your employer.
  • You can start gentle exercise after 1 week.
  • You can have sexual intercourse when you feel ready (usually after a few days), but you must continue to use another form of contraception until we give you the 'all-clear'.

Sperm counts

After the operation, there are still sperm in the semen. We ask you to do a sperm count after 4 months to check it is clear. You may be required to do more until the sperm are absent. We consider one negative sperm count as successful.

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3. Risks and consent process


Success rate

There is a small risk of failure. Early failure occurs when the tube does not seal properly and occurs approximately 1 in 200 times. This is picked up at the first sperm count. Late failure occurs when the tubes re-join. This is very rare (1 in 2000) and may occur even after a previous negative sperm count.


It is likely that you will have some discomfort for the first week. Simple painkillers should sort this out but if there are problems please contact or your doctor or ring us. Some men get bruising of the scrotum or even the penis. This should settle down over a week but if you have marked pain or swelling please contact your doctor or ourselves for advice. About 2 in 100 men may have long term persistent testicular pain.


This is rare but should be treated quickly. The signs are pain, redness of the skin and discharge from the wound. It usually occurs in the first 4-5 days. You should get advice and you may need to see a doctor to get antibiotics. If you are worried please call us for advice, see your GP or, if out of hours, call 111.

View consent form >
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