What is it and how does it work?

Sterilisation is a permanent method of contraception, suitable for people who are sure they never want children or do not want more children.


Male sterilisation (vasectomy) 

The overall failure rate is about one-in-two thousand.  

Female sterilisation (tubal occlusion)

The overall failure rate is about one-in-two hundred

Who can have it?

Men and Women


After sterilisation has worked, you don’t have to use contraception ever again.


The tubes may rejoin and you will be fertile again. This is not common.

Sterilisation cannot be easily reversed.

Sterilisation does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

It takes between four weeks and at least three months for sterilisation to be effective, depending on the method used.

Risks/Side effects

There is a risk that sterilisation will not work.

The tubes that carry the sperm in men and the eggs in women can rejoin after sterilisation. This can happen immediately or some years after the operation has been carried out.

Further guidance