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5-minute read

Key facts

  • A vasectomy is a permanent form of contraception, and can rarely be reversed.
  • It is a surgical procedure that prevents your sperm from leaving your penis when you ejaculate.
  • A vasectomy does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • A vasectomy can take 3 months or sometimes longer to take full effect – in the meantime, use other contraception if you don’t want to become a parent.

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that is a form of contraception. From the time you have a vasectomy, you are unlikely to have more children from sexual intercourse.

A vasectomy doesn't change your libido (sexual desire) or ability to reach orgasm. It won't stop the production of semen.

A vasectomy can sometimes be reversed, but it is generally permanent.

What vasectomy procedure will I have?

There are two ways you can have a vasectomy operation:

  • Open procedure method 1 or 2 small openings are made in the front of your scrotum. Your doctor will then cut and seal the vas deferens (the tube that carries the sperm) connected to each testicle. The opening in the scrotum is closed with a stitch or by pressing the skin edges together.
  • No-scalpel vasectomy ­1 or 2 small punctures are made in your scrotum with fine sharp forceps and each vas deferens is cut as in the open procedure. No stitches are required for this method.

The result of either operation means that your sperm can no longer reach your penis when you ejaculate.

The procedure takes about 20 to 40 minutes and usually happens under a local anaesthetic.

illustration of a vascetomy
Illustration of normal male anatomy showing where the vas deferens which is cut during a vasectomy.

What to expect after a vasectomy

After the anaesthetic wears off and for a few days after surgery you will have some bruising as well as pain and swelling in the groin or scrotum area. Paracetamol can help relieve your pain.

During the days after your procedure, you should contact your doctor, medical clinic or local hospital if any of the following happens:

  • severe bruising, or purple/blue colour of the skin
  • severe pain not relieved by paracetamol
  • significant swelling
  • significant redness around the cut area that could be a sign of infection

It is important to rest for a few days and avoid heavy lifting to ease the pain and swelling. Pain medicine, supportive underwear or ice packs can also help.

Your doctor will give you information about how to care for the wound, and when you can resume sexual activity.

How soon will a vasectomy work?

A vasectomy can take several months and up to 20 ejaculations to clear the sperm in the vas deferens after the procedure. A semen test 3 months after the procedure will tell you if it is safe to stop using other forms of contraception.

A very small proportion of vasectomies fail. This is why it is important to use contraception until a semen test is clear.

STI prevention

A vasectomy does not protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is important to continue using condoms if there is any risk of STIs.

Can a vasectomy be reversed?

A vasectomy is generally permanent. Sometimes it is possible to re-join the vas tubes, but this does not guarantee you will be able to produce more children. The chances of success decrease with time after the procedure.

If you’ve had a vasectomy and want to have more children, you may be able to have your sperm retrieved directly from your testes for assisted reproductive techniques, such as IVF.

If you’ve not yet had a vasectomy, but think you may want children later, you can ask to have some sperm frozen. Talk to your doctor before arranging the procedure.

More information

Talk with your doctor about your contraception and fertility options. You can also read more about other forms of contraception.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

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