About male sterilisation

Male sterilisation is commonly called a vasectomy. It’s a permanent method of contraception that stops eggs and sperm from meeting and is more than 99% effective. It is suitable for people who are sure they never want children or don’t want any more.

How it works

A vasectomy stops sperm from getting into a man’s semen. It does this by cutting or blocking the tubes which normally carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. This means that the man will still have erections and ejaculate (cum) but his semen will not contain any sperm so a woman’s egg cannot be fertilised.

How it is done

A vasectomy is a quick, relatively painless minor surgical procedure. The doctor performing the operation will numb the area so you can’t feel it. They will then cut, block or seal the tubes that normally carry sperm from your testicles to the penis. In most cases, you will be able to return home the same day.

The doctor doing your vasectomy will discuss the different surgical options so you can decide which is best for you. Before agreeing to the procedure, they will also ask you about your personal circumstances, give you information and offer counselling.

Who can have it done?

You can have a vasectomy at any age. However, if you are under 30, particularly if you do not have children, your doctor may be reluctant to perform the procedure.


There are many advantages to a vasectomy:

  • Very effective
  • Rarely any long-term effects on your health
  • Does not affect your or sex drive, ability to enjoy sex or your hormones
  • May be a simpler, safer and more reliable alternative to female sterilisation


It’s also worth bearing in mind that a vasectomy:

  • Doesn’t protect against STIs so you may need to use a condom
  • Difficult to reverse and this may not be available on the NHS
  • You need to continue using contraception after the operation until tests confirm that your semen (cum) is free of sperm
  • Your testicle(s) can feel tender for a few days after the operation
  • Complications can occur. These include a risk of a blood clot, sperm leaking into surrounding tissue and forming hard lumps, infections, long-term pain in your testicles, testicles feeling full (this feeling of fullness should pass naturally within a few weeks). There is a very small risk of your tube reconnecting making you fertile again

Where to get it

Talk to your GP if you are considering sterilisation. Your GP has the right to refuse to carry out or refer you for a vasectomy if they do not believe that it is in your best interests. If this is the case, you may have to pay to have a vasectomy privately.

A vasectomy operation can be done at:

  • Your local GP surgery
  • A hospital as a day-patient appointment
  • Some sexual health clinics
  • A private clinic

Need contraception?

Useful links

  • The Family Planning Association’s has an excellent Guide to Male & Female Sterilisation. This contains information on the different types of pill, how to take them and frequently asked questions
  • NHS Choices has lots of information about contraception with specific pages on male sterilisation
  • Brook has more information and advice on contraception written for people under 25, including sterilisation
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