by Dr Bruce Sutherland

Vasectomy is a relatively straight forward method of family planning nowadays. For a variety of reasons, it seems that New Zealand men have taken to the procedure with New Zealand having one of the world’s highest vasectomy rates. The reasons for this are probably in some way a credit to the New Zealand male character – sharing the burden of family responsibility – but also cost and access to hospital clinics has a bearing on vasectomy rates.

A vasectomy can be done under general anaesthetic but most are done under a local anaesthetic by a specialist or GP. The procedure takes about an hour and generally can be arranged so that it does not incur loss of work days.

No form of contraception is 100% reliable and vasectomy can have a failure rate of 0.5% initially but longer term failure rates are less than 1:2000 – one of the lowest failure rates of any method of contraception. Like any surgical procedure, there can be complications but these are generally minor, including bleeding, swelling, infection and short term pain.

There was some concern in the early days that vasectomy may be related to the development of prostate cancer in later life. At one point both vasectomy rates and prostate cancer rates seemed to be climbing. It now appears that prostate cancer increases are due to men living longer and larger studies have now shown no link to vasectomy rates world wide.

If you are interested in discussing this further, make an appointment to see your GP. The internet has some useful information. If you are interested in how the procedure is done then go to YouTube and you can watch vasectomies being performed by varying techniques. I have posted one of my vasectomies at

Don’t watch if you are squeamish!