Vasectomy: frequently asked questions
Q. Can I have a vasectomy if I am single?
A. Yes, vasectomies are carried out on single men in Australia. It does not matter if you have not had any children, however, you must think carefully about vasectomy as the procedure is permanent.
Q. Will the procedure hurt?
A. A vasectomy usually takes about 30 minutes, and can be done under local or general anaesthetic. Men usually report feeling a mild to moderate ache in their testicles for a few seconds during the procedure. For a few days after the vasectomy the testicles may ache or feel like they have been kicked. Men should rest for 24 hours afterwards and avoid heavy physical work and sexual activity for a few days.
Q. Will I still be able to ejaculate after vasectomy?
A. Yes, semen is made in the seminal vesicles and the prostate gland. These are not affected by a vasectomy. Sperm make up only 2 to 5 per cent of the ejaculate so you will not be able to notice any difference in the volume of your ejaculate.
Q. Will I still make sperm after my vasectomy?
A. Yes, sperm continue to be made in the testes after a vasectomy. After time, however, production of sperm is often reduced.
Q. After my vasectomy where do the sperm go?
A. The sperm, which are made in the testicles, cannot pass through the vas deferens once they have been cut and tied, so they are reabsorbed by the body.
Q. How long will it take after my vasectomy before I can assume that I am sterile?
A. It usually takes about 15-20 ejaculations after the operation before you flush out any remaining sperm from the seminal vesicles. You should use an alternative method of contraception during this time. After 2-3 months you should give a semen sample which will be tested to see if any sperm are still present in your ejaculate.
Q. Will my levels of testosterone fall after my vasectomy?
A. There is no evidence that vasectomy decreases testosterone levels or sex drive.
Q. Will my vasectomy be 100 per cent successful in preventing pregnancy?
A. More than 99 per cent of vasectomies are effective at preventing pregnancy. Very rarely, the 2 cut ends of the vas deferens can join together and form an open channel for sperm again — usually in the first 2-3 months after the operation.
Q. Is a vasectomy reversible?
A. Having a vasectomy should always be viewed as a permanent measure. However, it can be possible to have a vasectomy reversed in an operation called a vasovastostomy. This operation is more complex than the original vasectomy and takes longer. It often needs to be done under general anaesthetic. The surgeon has to find the 2 ends of the severed vas deferens and cut off the ties and any scar tissue. Then the 2 new ends have to be very carefully sewn together in a skilful operation. Various statistics are given for the proportion of reversals that are successful — success is most often achieved within 5 years of the original vasectomy.
Following micro-surgery to reverse a vasectomy, there is gradual recovery of sperm count in most men, but the level of recovery is variable. Factors such as age and time passed since vasectomy are 2 factors that may influence the level of recovery.
Q. Am I at greater risk of prostate cancer after having a vasectomy?
There is currently no consistent evidence from clinical trials that shows an association between prostate cancer and vasectomy.
- 1. Andrology Australia [website]. Understanding vasectomy (published 2005, August). Available from: http://www.andrologyaustralia.org/docs/Factsheet_Vasectomy_05.pdf (accessed 2009, Nov 12)