health articles


A vasectomy is a permanent form of contraception for men. A vasectomy is an operation to cut or seal the tubes that carry sperm from your testicles.  After vasectomy surgery, there is no sperm in your semen, and any partner will not get pregnant.

Virtually Healthcare provides comprehensive contraceptive and sexual health care. If you have finished your family, our doctors can refer you for a vasectomy, free of charge, on the NHS.

What is a vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure to sterilise men. Your surgeon will cut or use heat to seal the two vas deferens tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. You will produce semen, as usual, but it won’t contain sperm. Without sperm, you won’t fertilise your partner’s eggs, and they won’t get pregnant.

A vasectomy is a quick and straightforward procedure, lasting around 15 minutes. Your surgeon will usually operate using local anaesthetic, and you will be able to go home on the day of surgery.

Who can get a vasectomy on the NHS?

The NHS offers vasectomy surgery for men who want permanent contraception and have completed their families or are sure they don’t want children. The procedure should be considered permanent. Surgery to reverse a vasectomy is rarely available on the NHS.  Because of this, your doctor will check that you are sure you don’t want any more children ( or are confident you don’t want a family) before referring you for the procedure. The NHS website says that ‘You may be more likely to be accepted for a vasectomy if you’re over 30 and have had children[1].’

However, at Virtually Healthcare, we treat each patient as an individual. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service emphasises:

‘Single, married, divorced, widowed, childless or with a family – any man can have a vasectomy, regardless of his circumstances[2].

Your doctor may ask about your family, relationships and health. They will also listen to your preferences and plans before recommending vasectomy as a permanent method of contraception.

It’s important to remember that although vasectomy prevents pregnancy, it doesn’t protect against STIs. If you or your partner have different sexual partners, you should use a barrier contraceptive for infection protection.



The Virtually Healthcare difference

Virtually Healthcare is an innovative GP practice that provides high-quality health and contraceptive care in your home or in the clinic. Virtually Healthcare is designed to fit with busy modern lives. You can easily access consultations with virtual appointments available seven days a week.

The team includes more than 40 clinicians working together to investigate and treat disease and help you optimise your health and wellbeing. As well as highly-skilled GPs, the team includes experienced family planning and sexual health specialists, physiotherapists and practice nurses to offer a comprehensive primary care service.

During the pandemic, many patients have found it difficult to access healthcare. Virtually Healthcare provides rapid access video or telephone appointments, with same-day consultations available if you contact us before 3 pm. Our clinicians can provide professional assessment and advice, arrange investigations, prescribe treatment or arrange for a face-to-face review.

At Virtually Healthcare, we focus on you. Our clinicians take a holistic approach to care. Whether you want an easy, convenient way to get contraception or a discreet testing service for STIs, our dedicated team can provide expert advice and treatment.

How effective is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a highly effective, permanent form of contraception for men. It is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, you will need to use additional contraception after the procedure until you’ve cleared all existing sperm from your tubes, which can take up to 8-12 weeks or around 20 ejaculations.

Rarely you may have tiny numbers of sperm after a vasectomy, but these are unlikely to cause pregnancy. Very uncommonly, your tubes can rejoin. After surgery, you will have a sperm test to check that the procedure has worked and all the old semen has cleared. From then, you won’t have to worry about contraception and pregnancy anymore.

What happens in vasectomy surgery?

There are two types of vasectomy surgery. The traditional approach and an innovative ‘no scalpel’ approach:

Traditional vasectomy surgery:
Your surgeon will use a scalpel to make small cuts in the skin on your scrotum. They identify the tubes that carry sperm on each side, then use fine instruments to cut each tube, remove a segment to reduce the risk of the cut ends joining together again. They will also seal the ends using a heat source, sutures, or small clips. Finally, they will use fine stitches to close the skin and apply a dressing.

No-scalpel vasectomy:
A minimally invasive keyhole procedure
in which your surgeon punctures a small hole in the skin of your scrotum using a specialist device. They cut the tubes, remove a section, and seal the ends as in a traditional vasectomy. A no-scalpel vasectomy doesn’t need stitches, and you may have less bleeding, pain, and swelling than with conventional surgery.

How long is the recovery after a vasectomy?

Following vasectomy surgery, you’ll experience pain, bruising, and swelling in the scrotum. You can help your recovery by:

  • Using over-the-counter painkillers like paracetamol to reduce discomfort.
  • Wearing clean, supportive underwear to support the scrotum and minimise swelling.
  • Rest after surgery to give your body time to recover. Avoid sex, masturbation and strenuous exercise for a week.
  • If you have a sedentary job, you can go back to work after two days. If your job is physically demanding, you should stay off for seven days.
Hot topics in contraceptive care

Will it change sex?

Surgery shouldn’t change your sex drive, erection or the feel of your orgasm. After a vasectomy, you will produce semen, but it won’t contain sperm. You or your partner are unlikely to notice a difference in the ejaculate.

However, sex isn’t just physical. Sex is also linked to your emotions, confidence and mental health. You may feel liberated from pregnancy worries after your surgery, or you may feel a sense of loss of your potency. Talk to your doctor about any concerns; they may refer you for counselling.

Do I need permission from my partner before a vasectomy?

Legally, you don’t need your partner’s permission before vasectomy surgery. However, the surgery should be considered permanent. If you have a partner, it’s sensible to discuss the surgery with them before proceeding. It’s better to reach a joint decision about permanent contraception, but it’s not a legal requirement.

Types of consultations we offer

We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.