Male Sterilization

What is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a simple procedure in which a doctor cuts and ties the vas deference tubes which carry the sperm (male eggs) produced by the testicles in the scrotum. The sperm forms part of the semen which during sexual intercourse is passed into the woman’s vagina and may swim up the uterine tract to the fallopian tubes which may result in fertilisation and an eventual pregnancy.

What are the benefits?

  •  No unwanted pregnancy
  •  No need to use another method of contraception

NB: Despite the benefits, a condom must be used to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

What are the limitations?

  • It is a permanent method
  • 1 in 2000 lifetime risk of pregnancy
  • There is no protection against sexually transmitted infections, therefore a condom must be used to prevent  the spread thereof

How is the procedure done?

The duration of the procedure is approximately 10 -15 minutes. The surgeon locates the vas (tube) in the scrotum (sac) on both sides. A local anaesthetic is injected under the skin on both sides of the scrotum to prevent pain. The surgeon then waits until the area is numb.

The surgeon then makes a small cut in the skin (on both sides) to expose the vas deference.  In the new no-scalpel vasectomy both tubes are reached through a single tiny puncture made in the skin. The vas deference on each side is closed by tying and cutting it. The skin is then closed with a few stitches.  The operation is not effective immediately.

The testicles continue to produce the male hormones giving the man his normal feelings for sex and normal ability to have erections and make love, but because his semen contains no sperm he cannot impregnate a woman.

NB: The male with his partner should continue to use the method of contraception they used prior to the vasectomy until the laboratory result indicate that there is no sperm present in the semen analysis OR test.

After the Operation

  • Rest for a day or two depending on type of work.
  • Firm supporting underpants will provide comfort. Use a pain reliever such as Panado if needed.
  • Report any severe pain, swelling or fever to the clinic immediately.
  • He should be fit to return to normal work, exercise and sexual activity at the end of a week.
  • It takes approximately 20 ejaculations to get rid of all the sperm stored in the tubes.

NB: A semen test must be done 12 weeks after the operation. If the test result indicates that there is still sperm present then the male should continue with the contraceptive method used prior to sterilization.  Only If a semen analysis / test result indicates no sperm present then the male is sterilized.

Where can a man go if he wants to be sterilized?

  • To the local fertility / family planning clinic
  • To the fertility clinic at a pharmacy
  • To the medical doctor
  • To the urologist

Criteria for a sterilization at a Community Health Facility:

  • Age 18 years and older
  • Not obese
  • Healthy male
  • Blood pressure reading less than 140/100mmhg

NB: If the man does not meet the above criteria he would have to be sterilized at a  secondary OR tertiary level public health hospital. 

What can a man do to prevent a pregnancy until he is sterilized?

  • Use a condom every time he has sexual intercourse.
  • Together with his partner consult a health professional regarding an appropriate method for his female partner in the interim.

Finally when considering permanent contraception you need to be 100% sure of your decision. Sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. A decision to be sterilized should be taken seriously as it almost entirely eliminates the possibility of future conception.