A vasectomy is a safe and highly effective operation designed sterilise men. It is usually considered a permanent form of contraception, although in some cases the procedure can be reversed if necessary, e.g. if you decide to have children later on in life.

There is a small failure rate, usually in the first year, because the tubes grow back, although complications are rare and are generally associated with infection.  

Which men should consider sterilisation?

Male sterilisation, carried out by means of a vasectomy, is a form of permanent birth control for men. It should be considered only if you and your partner do not want children or if your family is complete. It should be considered as a permanent procedure

How does vasectomy work?

The principle is to prevent sperm from entering the fluid, which is ejaculated during orgasm. Sperm are produced in the testicles. They pass through tubes called the vas deferens to other glands where they mix with other fluids to form semen. Vasectomy blocks the vas deferens and keeps sperm out of the seminal fluid. The sperm are instead absorbed by the body. A small incision is made in the upper part of the scrotum under the penis. The vas deferens are tied off and cut apart. The skin incision is stitched and closed. Normally, you can return home immediately.

How do I prepare?

Ask your doctor about precautions. In general, don’t eat breakfast on the day of the procedure, and don’t take aspirin or ibuprofen for two weeks before your vasectomy and for a week afterward to decrease the risk of bleeding. On the day of the operation, shower beforehand and wear loose-fitting pants and underwear. 

How effective is vasectomy?

There is a small failure rate in the first year, where the tubes grow together again. This happens in around one in 1,000 cases. Vasectomy does not offer immediate protection against pregnancy since sperm remain in the system beyond the blocked tubes. You must use some other form of birth control until all these sperm are used up. This usually takes between 15 and 20 ejaculations. A simple semen analysis will show when there are no more sperm in the seminal fluid.  

What complications can occur after vasectomy?

Generally, complications are rare. Those that do occur are usually associated with infection after the operation.

Warning signs include:

  • A fever
  • Blood or pus oozing from the incision
  • Excessive pain or swelling 

Can a vasectomy be reversed?

Sometimes it is possible to reverse a vasectomy, but success is not guaranteed. Around 16% to 19% of men with reversed vasectomies will successfully father a child. In general, you should not consider vasectomy if you are thinking about reversal.

Irish Life Health cover for vasectomies

We cover up to €360 towards the cost of a vasectomy on selected Irish life Health plans. This includes any related consultations pre and post procedure. The vasectomy must be carried out by a GP who is registered with the Irish Medical Council. Call us in Cork on 1890 714 444 or check your Table of Cover to see if you are covered.

This information has been reproduced with kind permission of Zahra Publishing, publishers of Easy Health.