Male sterilisation, or vasectomy, is a form of surgical contraception that involves cutting and tying the 2 tubes (each called a vas deferens), that carry sperm from the testes (testicles) to the penis.
A vasectomy works by preventing the sperm from entering the seminal fluid (semen). Semen is produced in the seminal vesicles and prostate, which are unaffected by a vasectomy. The amount of seminal fluid is not affected, as sperm account for only 2-5 per cent of ejaculated fluid. The sperm, which are still produced by the testicles but can’t travel along each of the tied vas deferens, are reabsorbed by the body.
Male sterilisation is greater than 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy. It should be regarded as a permanent form of contraception, as it is difficult to reverse the surgical procedure, and couples where the man has had a reversal of his vasectomy have a success rate of pregnancy of only 45-60 per cent.
Some of the advantages of male sterilisation are that:
Some of the disadvantages of male sterilisation include the following.
Vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure that can be carried out under local anaesthetic by specially trained general practitioners, urologists or family planning clinics. The surgeon makes a tiny incision on each side of the scrotum, and then cuts and ties both vas deferentia off. The procedure takes less than 30 minutes.
A couple of months after the operation, the man should give a semen sample which is tested to see if sperm are still present.
Last Reviewed: 27 May 2009