Vasectomies are also known as the snip.

What is it?

A vasectomy is a permanent method of contraception, meaning that once a man has had the procedure he will not be able to get a woman pregnant.

How does it work?

A vasectomy involves cutting, blocking or sealing the vas deferens tubes, which prevents sperm from travelling from the testicles to the penis. This is done under local anaesthetic, takes about 15 minutes, and does not require a stay in hospital.

How effective is it?

Having a vasectomy is over 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.

What are the advantages?

Having a vasectomy is designed to be permanent, so you won’t need to think about contraception again after this procedure.

What are the downsides?

It is not 100 per cent effective, and in a very small number of cases the vas deferens may rejoin, meaning the man becomes fertile again. However, it also is not easily reversed, so it is important to be absolutely certain that having a vasectomy is right for you.

Things to bear in mind:

Having a vasectomy is a big decision to make, and your doctor will probably recommend you think things through carefully, or have counselling, before going ahead, so that you can fully explore all of the issues. It is not usually offered to young men who have not had any children.

Vasectomies are not immediately effective, because there can still be some sperm left in the tubes leading to the penis. For this reason it is important to use contraception until you have been tested to check if there is any sperm still present, and you can only be certain the vasectomy has been successful when you have had a negative sperm test

Having a vasectomy does not provide any protection against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, like a condom does.

Where can I get it from and how much does it cost?

You can be referred for a free vasectomy on the NHS by a doctor. This can be your GP, another GP who you have registered with for family planning services, or a doctor at a family planning or sexual health clinic. It is also possible to pay for private treatment, which costs from around £400.

Page content supplied by Copyright 2012 © Terrence Higgins Trust.

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