What is vasectomy and how does it work?

Vasectomy is the common name for male sterilisation and is a popular method of modern family planning chosen by millions of men worldwide. It offers a safe, convenient, and effective permanent method of family planning.

The operation is a minor procedure carried out under local anaesthetic that involves cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. To reach the tubes the doctor will make either a small cut or puncture in the scrotum. The tubes will then be cut and rejoined by tying the ends together or sealing them with heat. The opening in the scrotum will be very small and stitches may not be needed. If stitches are needed, dissolvable stitches or surgical tape will be used. The operation takes approximately 10 –15 minutes to complete.

Why choose vasectomy?

Many men choose vasectomy because they wish to relieve their partner of some of the contraceptive burden in their relationship. Other men choose vasectomy because they have completed their families or are certain they never wish to have children.

Because of possible complications during reversal operations, before choosing a vasectomy be sure it is the best long-term family planning method for you. Do not decide to have a vasectomy if you or your partner are not completely sure or are under stress.

How long does a vasectomy take to be effective?

Semen will remain in the tubes that lead to the penis after the procedure has been performed. There is also a small chance that the operation may fail if the sealed ends of the tube on one or both sides reunite. Because of this semen tests should be performed 16 and 18 weeks after the procedure to ensure there is no sperm left in the tubes and that the operation has been successful. Until you receive two negative semen tests another method of contraception should be used. More than two semen tests may be needed.

How long does it take to recover?

After the operation your scrotum may become bruised, swollen and painful. It is a good idea to rest for at least a week after the procedure. Wearing tight fitting underwear will help avoid bruising which may cause discomfort.

The IFPA provides free aftercare to clients so contact an IFPA clinic if you are unsure or worried about anything after the procedure.

Research shows that there are no known long-term health risks associated with having a vasectomy. Visit your doctor if you are unsure or worried about anything after the procedure.

Are there any risks involved?

Vasectomy is a minor procedure with very little risk involved.
For the majority of men pain is mild and they do not require any further assistance. However, a small number of men can experience bleeding, swelling or infection and occasionally sperm can leak out of the tube and collect in the surrounding tissue causing inflammation and pain. In these
cases it is best to see the doctor as soon as possible as these can be treated effectively. Some men may experience chronic pain or ongoing pain in their testicles. Treatment for this can be unsuccessful.

There is a small risk that the procedure may not be successful and because of this you should continue to use other contraception until you receive two negative semen results. There is also a very small risk (1 in 2000) of late failure.

Having a vasectomy will not affect your sex life. In fact many couples find having a vasectomy improves their sex life as they enjoy greater sexual freedom without worrying about an unplanned pregnancy.

Vasectomy services at IFPA clinics

  • The IFPA carried out the first vasectomy in Ireland in 1973 at a time when other forms of contraception were banned offering couples a permanent method of avoiding unplanned pregnancies. Since then the IFPA has carried out over 10,000 vasectomies.
  • We provide a safe and comprehensive service including counselling and consultation, procedure, aftercare and follow-up semen testing.
  • The IFPA’s supportive and professional team provides the highest possible care in a friendly and relaxing environment.
  • We are completely confidential and will not inform anyone about your appointment. If you are in a relationship, we would always advise that you discuss such an important decision with your partner.
  • Before carrying out the procedure the IFPA provides comprehensive counselling for clients to ensure it is the best method of family planning for them.