Vasectomy Q&A with Consultant Surgeon Harmeet Khaira
Vasectomy is an excellent means of family planning. It will stop sperm coming into the ejaculate but does not affect the testosterone levels in a man.
In this blog, consultant surgeon Harmeet Khaira answers the most common questions posed by men and women regarding vasectomy.
How long does the procedure take?
A vasectomy is a fairly quick procedure, taking only about 15-20 minutes in the operating theatre.
What exactly is done during the procedure?
During the vasectomy procedure, the surgeon will identify the vas in the scrotum. The vas is then firmly held whilst local anaesthetic is injected into the skin and deeper tissues around the vas. A small incision is made over the vas and the vas isolated before it is divided and tied. A small segment of the vas is removed. The skin is then closed with a dissolving suture.
Will I have to be asleep for the vasectomy procedure?
At The Westbourne Centre the vasectomy operation is carried out under local anaesthetic and If you are very nervous, sedation can be given (but is usually not needed).
How long will it hurt for afterward?
The operation site will be uncomfortable for 2-4 days and simple pain killers can be taken. The testicles may ache for a couple of weeks whilst sperm production slows down and eventually stops. You may have some bruising for a few days and there is a risk of wound infection (antibiotics from your GP will settle this down).
How soon after a vasectomy can I have sex?
Sexual activity can be resumed as soon as you are comfortable, but it is very important to remember that it can take 12-14 weeks for the sperm count to disappear after a vasectomy operation and 2 clear semen tests have to be completed before you can stop using other means of contraception. The reason for this is that it can take this long for the sperm store in the seminal vesicles to become depleted. In rare circumstances there may be two vas on one side - this is a cause of early failure and is the reason for checking the semen to ensure the sperm count goes to zero.
What is the success rate of the procedure? I've heard it's not guaranteed in preventing pregnancy.
Under very rare circumstances the 2 ends of the vas can join up again over time and this is the cause of late failure of the vasectomy procedure. This is very rare.
A vasectomy can be reversed apparently, but is there a time limit before this becomes less successful? And if successfully reversed, could you then have another vasectomy later if you wanted to? For example, have a reversal to father a child with a new partner, and then be snipped again?
Due to changing circumstances some men want the vasectomy operation reversed later in life. This is possible but do remember that the longer the interval before reversal, the lower the chance of success. Of course, the vasectomy can be carried out again after a successful reversal.
Is there an age when a vasectomy is no longer needed?
Men continue to produce sperm from puberty and so can father a child at any age. There is no age limit to a vasectomy if you are sexually active with partners of child-bearing age.