A vasectomy or 'male sterilisation' is a simple and reliable method of contraception.

It is usually considered a permanent form of contraception, although in some cases the procedure can be reversed, if necessary, e.g. if you decide to have children later on in life.

How does a vasectomy work?

It works by preventing sperm from reaching the semen that is ejaculated from the man's penis during sex. It is a quick and painless surgical procedure, usually carried out under local anaesthetic. In most cases, you will be able to return home the same day as your procedure.

A vasectomy has no effect on your sex drive or ability to enjoy sex. You will still have erections and ejaculate normally. The only difference is that the semen you ejaculate will not contain sperm.

How long will I have to wait?

In most parts of the UK, a vasectomy is available free of charge under the NHS. However, waiting lists can be long and the length of time you have to wait may depend on where you live. You should speak to your GP about the availability of vasectomies in your area. As waiting lists for vasectomies can be long, some men choose to pay to have the procedure carried out privately.

What are the benefits?

A vasectomy may be appropriate when a couple do not want any more children, or have decided not to have any at all. It may be chosen as a simpler and more reliable alternative to female sterilisation.

A vasectomy is normally permanent, so once it has been carried out successfully and semen tests have shown there is no sperm present, long-term partners may not need to use other forms of contraception.

However, a vasectomy does not protect against HIV infection, or any other sexually transmitted infection (STI), so you should continue to protect yourself by using condoms with any new partner.

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