Male and female sterilisation explained

Male and female sterilisation is considered by the National Health Service to be a permanent method of contraception. It may be possible to have a reversal based on individual circumstances, but this would normally have to be carried out at a private clinic like Broadgate Clinic London Wall.

While it is possible for both operations to be reversed but there are no guarantees that a reversal will be successful.

Female sterilisation (tube occlusion)

A female sterilisation procedure involves blocking, cutting, sealing, tying or removing small sections of the fallopian tubes. Sometimes clips of rings may be used for blocking. There are two ways in which this procedure can be carried out: a laparoscopy or a mini laparotomy. A laparoscopy is the more common of the two procedures.

Many women who undergo sterilisation return home the same day but in some instances you could be in hospital for two days. The actual time will vary dependent on the individual, the method adopted, and the anaesthetic used. In some instances the procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic; in others a local or regional anaesthetic is used.

A laparoscopy procedure

When a laparoscopy is performed this involves the doctor making a small incision in the abdomen (near the belly button) and inserting a laparoscope (a small tube with a mini-camera on the end) which allows the doctor to get a clear view of the woman’s reproductive organs. The doctor will then block or seal the fallopian tubes using clips or sometimes rings.

A mini-laparotomy procedure

When a mini-laparotomy is performed this involves the doctor making a small incision in the abdomen just below the bikini line to gains access to the fallopian tubes. This procedure is normally carried out under a general anaesthetic and will mean spending a couple of days in hospital.  

For a mini-laparoscopy, a doctor will make a small cut (usually less than two inches long) in your abdomen just below the bikini line, to reach the fallopian tubes. You will usually have a general anaesthetic and spend a couple of days in hospital.

A female sterilisation procedure can be carried out at any time in the menstrual cycle.

Post procedure

Having recovered from the anaesthetic, passed urine and been given something to eat, you will be permitted the leave the hospital/clinic. If you leave within hours of the procedure get a friend or relative to collect you or take a taxi.

If you had the procedure under a general anaesthetic you should not drive for 48 hours, and it is normal to feel a little uncomfortable or unwell for a couple of days until the anaesthetic has worked its way out of your system.

After undergoing tubal occlusion it is recommended that you should use contraception up until you have your next period in order to prevent becoming pregnant. You can resume having sex as soon as you feel comfortable and your sex drive will not be affected.

Female sterilisation procedures are more than 99% effective.

Remember that sterilisation does not in any way protect you from the risk of contracting an STI.

Male sterilisation – the vasectomy

The male sterilisation procedure is the vasectomy. It is a generally simpler operation than a female sterilisation procedure.

The vasectomy

A vasectomy is a male sterilisation procedure. It is carried out by way of a minor operation usually under a local anaesthetic. The tubes that carry the sperm from the testicles to the penis (the vas deferens) are either cut, blocked or sealed.

There are now two types of vasectomy, the conventional vasectomy and the no-scalpel vasectomy. Both are normally carried out under a local anaesthetic.

The conventional vasectomy

When having a conventional vasectomy, the scrotum will be numbed using a local anaesthetic. The doctor will then make two small cuts each approximately 1 cm long on either side of the scrotum. This allows access to the vas deferens. Each tube is then cut and a small section taken away. The ends of the tubes are then usually sealed via diathermy (a high temperature procedure). The incisions are closed using dissolvable stitches which normally disappear within approximately one week.

The no-scalpel vasectomy

This procedure is also usually carried out under local anaesthetic. The doctor performing a no-scalpel vasectomy will feel the vas deferens beneath the skin of the scrotum and will hold them in place by use of a small clamp. A special device is then utilised to make a small puncture in the skin of the scrotum. This hole is then opened up using a small pair of forceps which allows the doctor access to the vas deferens, not having to cut the skin with the scalpel. The tubes are then cut and sealed off as in a conventional vasectomy.

There will be little bleeding and no stitches are required. A no-scalpel vasectomy is thought to be less painful and is less likely to cause complications.

Post vasectomy

Most men who undergo a vasectomy of either type can leave the hospital/clinic immediately the procedure is finished. The procedure takes about 15 minutes on average. There will be some bruising and discomfort for several days, but you will be able to return to work after one or two days.

It can take up to 20 or 30 ejaculations after having had a vasectomy for all sperm to be washed through your system. It is therefore necessary to wear on condom during sex for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks you should produce a sperm sample for testing to ensure the procedure has worked. Once you are given the all-clear you will not have to use a condom again for contraception. A vasectomy is over 99% efficient.

It must be remembered that a vasectomy does not offer any protection against contracting an STI

Information and advice on male and female sterilisation from Broadgate Clinic London Wall

If you live and/or work in London you can visit the private, walk-in well man clinic, well woman clinic, or the family planning clinic we operate here at Broadgate Clinic London Wall for a consultation with a private GP regarding female or male sterilisation.

Our opening hours are:

Monday to Thursday                08:00 to 18:30

Friday                                         08:00 to 17:30

If you prefer to phone ahead to make an appointment, the number to call is 020 7638 4330.