'The Snip' FAQs

A vasectomy is surgery so it's a big step. Be sure.
The snip? You're not still on about circumcision.

No. The snip is a vasectomy — a medical procedure in which the tubes carrying the sperm from the testicles to the seminal vessel are cut and heat sealed. As a result when semen is ejaculated from the vessel during sex, it contains no sperm. It takes just twenty minutes (the operation, not the sex.)

Heat-sealed. Gulp. Why would I want that?

90,000 men have a vasectomy every year making it one of the most popular forms of male contraception as well as the single most effective. No more babies and no more fiddling with condoms. Moreover, the modern vasectomy need not involve a snip at all. The non-scalpel method uses a clamp and produces little bleeding.

Now you're talking. But are you sure it won't affect my sex life?

It makes you infertile not impotent. Most men enjoy the same sex life after their vasectomy as before.

That's what's I'm afraid of.

Vasectomy is carried out routinely but it is surgery nonetheless and all men respond differently. Don't be forced into something you don't want by anyone including your partner or doctor. Despite everything, a lot of men report pain and other continuing problems with sex, pain, bruising and even bleeding.

Isn't there an easier way? A male pill?

Vasectomy is 99.8% effective. Used properly, condoms can be 98% effective. Your call.

As for the male pill, it's in the works and has been for the last twenty years or so. But there's still no sign of one.

Any other side-effects?

Swollen or tender testicles can result, particularly in the first year after the operation.

But after that I'll be all okay right?

Well not necessarily. The NHS says that 1 in 10 men suffer long term pain in their testicles but this can sometimes be remedied with more - you guessed it - surgery. The condition has even a term coined for it Post Vasectomy Pain (PVP)

Without my sperm I'm less of a man, aren't I?

It really depends how you see it. The hormone that makes men, men is called testosterone. The NHS says that a vasectomy won't affect your sex drive as your testosterone is still produced and the sperm are just reabsorbed into your body without harm. Some men have complained that their sex drive has been affected but at the moment there's no evidence to suggest a physical cause for this.

What if I change my mind?

Although about 60% of vasectomies can be reversed, it's best seen as a once and for all solution. Non-essential surgery might be justified once but probably not twice? It's a tough decision and don't take it lightly.

What do other men think?

Read Kieran Brennan's Vasectomy Diary


MAIN IMAGE: Scissors by James Bowe licensed under CC BY 2.0

Date published 03/04/14
Date of last review 03/04/14
Date of next review 03/04/17


The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

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