What is a Male Vasectomy?

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A male vasectomy is a surgical procedure to cut or seal the tubes that carry a man’s sperm to permanently prevent pregnancy. Its usually carried out under local anaesthetic, where you are awake but don’t feel any pain, and takes about 15 minutes. In rare cases, you may have a general anaesthetic, where you are asleep during the operation.

How it Works

The procedure works by stopping sperm getting into a man’s semen, the fluid that he ejaculates. The tubes that carry sperm from a man’s testicle to the penis are cut, blocked or sealed with heat. This means that when a man ejaculates, the semen has no sperm in it and a woman’s egg can’t be fertilised.

How a male Vasectomy is Carried Out

A vasectomy is a quick and relatively painless surgical procedure. In most cases, you are able to return home on the same day. There are 2 types of vasectomy:

  • A conventional vasectomy using a scalpel
  • A no-scalpel vasectomy

The doctor treating will discuss which option is best for you.

Conventional Vasectomy

The doctor first numbs your scrotum with a local anaesthetic. They then make 2 small cuts in the skin at each side of your scrotum to reach the tubes that carry sperm out of your testicles. Each tube will then be cut and a small section will be removed. The ends of the tubes are then closed, either by tying them or sealing them using heat. The cuts are stitched, usually using dissolvable stitches that go away on their own within about a week.

No-Scalpel Vasectomy

The doctor first numbs your scrotum with a local anaesthetic. They then make a tiny puncture hole in the skin of your scrotum to reach the tubes. This means they don’t need to cut the skin with a scalpel. The tubes are then closed in the same way as a conventional vasectomy, either by being tied or sealed. There are little bleeding and no stitches with this procedure. Its thought to be less painful and less likely to cause complications than a conventional vasectomy.

Is Reversal Possible?

It is possible to have a vasectomy reversed. But the procedure isn’t always successful and its rarely funded by the NHS. You have a better chance if it is done soon after the vasectomy. If a reversal is carried out within 10 years of your vasectomy, the success rate is about 55%. This falls to 25% if your reversal is carried out more than 10 years after. Even if a surgeon manages to join up the vas deferens tubes again, pregnancy may still not be possible, so you should be certain before going ahead with the procedure.

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