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A vasectomy is a operation to make a man sterile, so he cannot father any more children. It is usually a straightforward procedure and has a very good success rate. Vasecomy is done as a permanent sterilization procedure. Although it can be reversed, this requires a very specialised operation and there are no guarentees of success. You should only have a vesectomy if you are as sure as you can be that you will never want any more children.

How is a vasectomy done?

A vasectomy can be done either under general anaesthetic (so the patient is asleep while the operation is done), or a local anaesthetic. Either way, it is normally performed as a daycase (ie you can go home on the same day).

The operation involves making a very tiny cut on either side of the scrotum. The tube that transports the sperm from the testicles (the vas deferens) is divided on both sides and tied off. A disolvable stitch may be put in the skin on each side.

After the vasectomy operation

There is a bit or soreness and discomfort after the operation, but this only usually requires simple painkillers for a day or two. We advise a couple of days rest after the procedure, but it is not usually necessary to take a long time off work. The stitches will dissolve on their own and fall away. If the stitches are still present after 2 weeks, you can ask a nurse to remove them for you.

Because there are still some sperms in the system after the operation, it usually takes a few weeks for them to disappear. You will therefore not be sterile until these sperms have cleared and you must continue to use other forms of contrception to avoid pregnancy. A sperm sample is sent to the lab after about 16 weeks to check if the sperms have gone. Follow this external link for more information on post-vasectomy semen testing.

What can go wrong with vasectomy?

Vasectomy is normally a straightforward procedure but problems can occasionally arise. Minor bruising of the scrotum can occur, and occasionally the scrotum can swell up due to blood clot under the skin. The can be unconfortable, and if it happens suddenly after the operation, it may be advised to go back to the operating theatre to remove the clot.

The success rate of the operation is very high. If the sperm are still present in the semen specimen after 9 weeks, then a further specimen will be sent a few weeks later. Sometimes, the sperm do not clear from the specimens, and this is usually because the tubes have healed back together. This happens in about 1 in 200 men and means that the vasectomy needs to be done again. Very rarely, the tubes can grow back together many years later and sperms can reappear. This is very rare (1 in 2000 men).

Other problems include pain and discomfort in the testicles lasting more than a few weeks (1%). This can cause significant bother for a small number of men so that they need to use painkillers. Fortunately this is rare.

Can a vasectomy be reversed?

Occasionally, men who have had a vasectomy decide that they want to be able to have another child. Reversal of vasectomy is certainly possible for the majority of patients. It is a highly skilled procedure, so it is important that you see an expert in micro-surgical vasectomy reversal. Vasectomy reversal is not performed under the NHS and so you will need to go to a private hospital.

John Lemberger has been performing vasectomy reversals for over 20 years and is an accomplished surgeon with a wealth of experience. Follow this link for more information about vasectomy reversal.