The number of vasectomies performed by sexual health services has fallen by 63% in a decade, according to new statistics from NHS Digital.
Natika Halil, chief executive of sexual health charity FPA, attributed “cuts to services, a fractured commissioning system, a lack of accountability, and a lack of training for healthcare professionals” for reduced access to the contraception.
She added that some places in England are also no longer offering the procedure free of charge on the NHS, meaning some men may have to fork out around £500 for a private procedure.
Off the back of the news, we spoke to Genevieve Edwards, policy director at Marie Stopes UK, about what a vasectomy entails, costs and whether it affects a man’s ability to orgasm.
Who can have the procedure?
A vasectomy can be completed within 15 minutes, often using local anaesthetic, which numbs the scrotum and testicles. It’s considered a permanent contraceptive option, ideal for those who don’t want to have any, or any more, children.
“Most men who choose vasectomy do so because they feel that they have completed their family, but others simply don’t want children,” said Edwards.
“Men can legally request a vasectomy from the age of 18, but we recommend that anyone under the age of 25 has counselling to ensure he understands that the procedure is likely irreversible.
“There is no maximum age limit.”
How effective is it?
In most cases, a vasectomy is more than 99% effective. This means that out of 2,000 men who are sterilised, one will get a woman pregnant during the rest of his lifetime.
“It is one of the most effective methods of contraception that exists,” added Edwards.
What does a vasectomy entail?
Despite it being called ‘the snip’, there is actually no cutting involved, according to Edwards.
The procedure involves using heat to seal the tubes that carry sperm to the seminal fluid (semen), which is ejaculated from the penis during sex.
“After a vasectomy, the testicles will continue to produce sperm as normal, but it will simply be absorbed into the body,” said Edwards. “The incision is very small, and no scalpel or stitches are needed.”
She added: “Most men who have it can return to work the following day.
“It’s safe, effective and offers a permanent solution to contraceptive needs.”
Does it affect your ability to orgasm?
“For many men who choose to have a vasectomy, one of their first questions is whether it will have an effect on their orgasms,” said Edwards.
“It’s an understandable concern, but the procedure does not affect a man’s hormones, ejaculation or orgasm so there is no physical reason why it should have a negative impact on a couple’s sex life.
“Many couples find having a vasectomy improves their sex life - enjoying greater sexual freedom once they no longer have the worry of an unplanned pregnancy.”
How much does it cost?
If you’re looking to have a vasectomy done privately, it could cost around £400-£500. However in some cases you can also be referred by your GP to have it done under the NHS for free.
“To find out if you’re eligible to have a vasectomy at Marie Stopes on the NHS, please call us on 0345 300 0212 with details of where you live and which GP practice you are registered with,” Edwards concluded.