A vasectomy is safe, simple and effective. It has a whole range of pluses for men who have decided that a more permanent form of birth control is what they need.

But when you’re thinking about having a vasectomy, there’s a lot to consider. You and your partner are likely to have questions and concerns about the vasectomy process, and how it could affect your sex life, your emotions and your relationship.

We’ve gathered together some of the questions our urology surgeons get asked the most, so that you can get the lowdown on what vasectomy involves.

1. Is a vasectomy right for me?

Sperm is produced in the testicles, and when mature, the sperm moves through tiny tubes inside your penis (called the vas deferens), combining with secretions to form semen. During a vasectomy, the vas deferens are cut or sealed to prevent sperm flowing into the semen, permanently preventing pregnancy.

If you and your partner have decided that your family is complete, or you don’t want children at all, having a vasectomy could be the answer. It’s a reliable, effective and permanent birth control solution.

Only you can decide if having a vasectomy is right for you. While a vasectomy has fewer risks and a quicker recovery time than female sterilisation, you should weigh up all the risks and benefits of vasectomy before you decide to go ahead. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have, because understanding what’s involved is key.

2. Does a vasectomy hurt?

Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area during treatment. This stings slightly, but the operation itself doesn’t hurt. It’s normal to experience some pain or discomfort after a vasectomy once the anaesthetic has worn off, but this is generally mild and short-term – a few days – and resolves as your body heals. Over the counter painkillers will help to manage it.

3. What are the side effects or risks?

There is always a slight risk of infection with any operation, and vasectomy is no different. After your procedure, there are other risks, too – your groin and scrotum area may be swollen and tender, so you may experience discomfort. And another possible side effect is haematoma (blood clot) which may require further surgery.

It’s also important to realise that you should use an alternative form of contraception for six months following your procedure, and you should keep using an alternative type of contraception to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases.

You can find a more information on the risks and benefits of vasectomy here.

4. How effective is a vasectomy?

Studies show that a vasectomy is more than 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, but there is still a small chance that you may still be fertile after the procedure.

You will still need to use contraception for at least twelve weeks after a vasectomy operation, because very occasionally active sperm remains in the tubes leading to the penis. Occasionally, this can take six months or longer. After the operation, at least one sample of your semen will be tested to check that the procedure has been successful.

5. Will a vasectomy affect my sex life?

Having a vasectomy operation should not affect your sex life in any way, and it won’t affect your health. Your testicles won’t change – they’ll still produce sperm, but that will be absorbed back into your body. You will still be able to have an erection, ejaculation will not be affected, and your semen will look the same. You will still produce testosterone.

However, it’s best not to have sex in the first couple of weeks following your operation, to let your body heal properly. And it can take up to three months for your sperm count to drop to final drop to zero.