This section will look in detail at the male sterilisation operation of vasectomy. It is hoped that what follows will answer some of the most common questions, or fears that men may have.
What is it?
Vasectomy is male sterilisation. It is a minor operation in which the two tubes, known as vas deferens, which carry the sperm from the testicles to the penis are cut and blocked so they can no longer carry sperm and seminal fluid.
How effective is it?
In the majority of cases this operation is successful.
Who is it suitable for?
It is suitable only for men who are sure that they do not want to reproduce children in the future.
As it is considered a permanent contraceptive method, which is very difficult, often impossible to reverse, men considering vasectomy will be offered counselling, which is compulsory, prior to the operation. Discussions may include your age, previous children, medical health and reasons for choosing vasectomy.
A medical check up is also required prior to any surgery and both you AND your partner, if any, will have to sign consent forms.
What is the operation like?
The operation is usually done under local anaesthetic, and in total it takes about 15-20 minutes. Two small incisions are made, either side of the scrotum. The vas or tube is pulled out through the incision, and a small piece of the tube is removed. The tube is then sealed closed, usually by cauterising, (sealing of the skin by heat). This method is then repeated on the other side of the scrotum.
Cross section illustration of a penis and testicle, showing the location
of the cut vas derferens resulting from a vasectomy
Is it painful?
As the operation is carried out under local anaesthetic, you should not feel any pain during the procedure, although you may feel discomfort.
Usually you can travel home about an hour after the operation, but you will need to rest up for the rest of the day. It will be necessary to take some time off work, your own Doctor will be able to advise you on how long you may need, but 3-4 days is common.
What can I expect?
You can expect a certain level of discomfort during this time, and you may experience quite considerable bruising, that can look alarming, but is usually less painful than it looks. Once healed, you will be left with two small scars.
Personal hygiene is very important, as infections are to be expected, due to the body heat in this sensitive area. Signs to watch out for are bleeding from the scrotum or the presence of pus in the wounds. If you have these symptoms, or suspect an infection after your operation, see your Doctor as soon as possible. You will probably be prescribed an anti-biotic medication.
After the operation – Important Information
The vasectomy is not effective immediately as there are still sperm present between the scrotum and the penis. For this reason, to prevent pregnancy you must continue to use another method of contraception until you have had at least two consecutive, sperm-free semen tests. These are done about 3-4 months following the operation.
The samples for the semen tests are collected, (or harvested) by masturbating, (wanking) into a pot supplied by the clinic you attended. These are then sent via the postal service for analysis. Sometimes the vas deferens can rejoin where the cuts were made post operatively, meaning that these tubes can still carry seminal fluid and sperm, this will show in your semen tests. If this happens you can discuss your options with your surgeon.
How soon can I have sex again?
You can have sex again as soon as it feels comfortable to do so, but until your semen test are sperm free you may want to use another contraceptive method.
Is there a cost?
Yes, there is a cost. Depending on where you go the cost can range from €300.00 upwards. Your clinic will be able to advise you on the costs involved.
Myths and Facts
Vasectomy should be seen as a permanent condition.
Your balls do NOT normally swell to the size of oranges.
It will leave you sore and bruised for a short while.
It will NOT reduce your libido (sex drive), on the contrary, some men report that the physical and mental freedom created by the operation actually increases their libido.
You will still be able to ejaculate (cum) your usual amount of seminal fluid, the only difference is that it will not contain sperm.
This operation is NOT the same as castration!
Plenty of thought should be given before proceeding with this operation.
For further information and appointments we suggest that you, in the first instance contact the Irish Family Planning Association or your own Doctor.