What is a vasectomy?

It is an operation to cut and tie off the two sperm carrying tubes (the vas deferens).

Why should you have this operation?

It is a simple, safe and reliable way to permanently prevent sperm from getting to the outside through the penis.
  • It means that you will not be able to father a child.
  • It does not mean that you cannot have sex.
  • All of your male characteristics and sex drive will remain the same. The only change will be that your semen will not contain sperm.
It is a minor operation that can be performed under local anaesthetic, general anaesthetic or sedation and takes about 30 minutes.

At the Whittington hospital the operation is not reversible.

What are the alternatives?

You should discuss the alternatives (such as condoms) with your GP and partner before you reach an agreed decision to have a vasectomy.

What preparation do you need?

If you are having a general anaesthetic or sedation you may be asked to attend a pre-operative assessment (health check) with a nurse, a short time before the operation. This may include a blood test, a blood pressure check or a chest x-ray.

You should tell the nurse if you are on any medication or if you are allergic to anything.

You must not eat anything from 6 hours before the operation and may only drink sips of water until 2 hours before.

If you are having a local anaesthetic an appointment letter will be sent to you with a leaflet about minor operations in the day surgery unit. Please read it carefully.

You should have nothing to eat or drink from 7am on the day of your operation.

On the day of the operation

  • Please make sure that you thoroughly wash the scrotal area before you come in.
  • The doctor will ask you to sign a consent form to confirm that you understand the procedure and agree to go ahead with it.
  • If you are having a local anaesthetic you will have an injection to numb the scrotal area; but you will be aware of all that is going on.
If you are having a general anaesthetic you will be asleep throughout

If you are having sedation you will only be vaguely aware of the procedure at the time and probably have no memory of it.
  • A tiny cut will be made in the skin of the upper part of the scrotum and the vas deferens will be cut and tied.
  • The same is repeated on the other side.
  • You will have a small stitch and dressing.
  • The operation lasts about 15 minutes.

After the operation

If you had a local anaesthetic:
  • You should stay in the recovery ward for about 1hour; then you can go home when a nurse has checked you.
  • Please make arrangements for transport home, you should not drive yourself.
If you had a general anaesthetic or sedation:
  • You will recover on the ward for 2-3 hours before going home.
  • You must arrange for a responsible adult to take you home and remain with you for 24 hours.
  • You must not drive, drink alcohol or operate machinery (including cookers) for 36 hours to allow the effect of the anaesthetic to wear off.

Advice for all patients

  • We advise you to wear supportive underwear to start with.
  • You should rest for the remainder of the day.
  • You will be given some painkillers, such as Paracetamol, with instructions on taking them.
  • The stitches will dissolve on their own in 7 - 10 days.
  • Sperm checks after your vasectomy - you will be given two pots for seminal fluid samples with instructions on when and where to bring them for checking in the laboratory (about three months after the vasectomy).

At home

  • You can walk about, climb stairs etc, but take it easy.
  • Keep the wounds dry for the first 24 hours, then you can shower as usual.
  • To reduce the chance of swelling or bleeding apply cold packs (such as frozen peas) to the scrotum on the outside of your underwear.
  • You may resume more strenuous activity, such as sport and sex, after 1 - 2 weeks but only as long as that activity does not cause discomfort.
  • Please note: it is very important to realize you still have sperm in your semen and so you should take precautions (such as using condoms when having sex) for up to 12 weeks following your vasectomy.

Are there any risks?

This is a safe and simple operation, but there is some risk associated with all surgical procedures.
  • There is a small risk of infection of the cuts. If you have excessive swelling, tenderness, redness and a raised temperature you should contact your GP.
  • You may experience some bruising of the scrotum, which will gradually resolve over the following week.
Please speak to your specialist doctor if you have any worries about these risks.

Remember you will still have sperm in your semen for up to 12 weeks after the operation.

Any further questions?

Please phone the Day Surgery staff on 020 7288 5099 (Monday – Friday 8am – 7pm).

Out of hours – please phone 020 7288 5443 (Trevor Ward), Monday – Saturday midday.
Last updated22 Apr 2008
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