What to expect
You probably won’t need to wait long before you can return to normal activities after vasectomy.
A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure in which your surgeon cuts and closes off the tubes that deliver sperm from your testicles into your semen. Most vasectomies can be done in a urologist’s office. The procedure itself is quick, taking about 30 minutes or less.
Full recovery time is about eight to nine days for many people. Keep in mind this may vary depending on your individual perception of pain and ability for tissue healing.
It will take longer until you can ejaculate without sperm in your semen.
Typically, your doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area of your scrotum before the surgery. Just after the procedure is over, you won’t feel much while the anesthetic is still in effect.
After surgery, your doctor will bandage your scrotum. Once the numbness wears off, your scrotum will feel tender, uncomfortable, or painful. You’ll probably notice some bruising and swelling, too.
You should be able to go home shortly after the surgery. Your doctor will likely recommend you have someone drive you home so you don’t put any unnecessary strain or pressure on the surgical site.
You should be able to urinate without any trouble, but it might feel uncomfortable.
Immediately following the procedure, the following do’s and don’ts can help keep your pain and discomfort under control:
- Do wear tight underwear to secure your genital area and avoid injury or stitches falling out.
- Do gently press an ice pack or cold compress against your scrotum for 20 minutes several times a day to relieve pain and swelling. Make your own cold compress at home with a frozen bag of vegetables and a thin washcloth.
- Do keep an eye on the surgical site. Seek medical attention if you notice a lot of pus, redness, bleeding, or worsening swelling during the first couple days.
- Do take pain-relieving medication. Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any pain. Avoid blood thinners like aspirin (Bayer) or naproxen (Aleve).
- Don’t bathe right away. Wait about a day or so to shower or bathe, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
- Don’t lift anything over 10 pounds, exercise, or have sex to avoid reopening your incisions.
Rest as much as possible during the first couple of days to recover more effectively. You can take the surgical bandage off and stop wearing tight underwear after about two days. You’ll also likely be able to bathe or shower.
Pain and swelling may get worse at first, but for most people, these symptoms should improve fairly quickly and clear up after about a week. You should be able to resume most of your daily activities within the first two days without too much trouble or discomfort.
You can usually return to work after two days if it won’t require much manual labor or moving around.
In the first 48 hours following your procedure, the following can help improve your recovery:
- Rest. Lie on your back as much as possible to keep from straining your scrotum.
- Keep monitoring your symptoms. If you have fever or increased pain and swelling, get medical help right away.
- Don’t do any heavy lifting or exercise. This can irritate the surgical site and cause blood to leak into your scrotum.
You may have some pain, discomfort, and sensitivity for a few days. Most of it should be long gone after a full seven days of recovery.
Your surgical site should also have healed for the most part after a week. You’ll likely not need to wear any bandages or gauze at this point.
You should be able to resume most normal activities in the first week following the procedure. This includes light exercise and sex, provided you feel comfortable and your surgical site has mostly healed.
You may still have some pain during ejaculation or blood in your semen. Learn more about what to expect from sex after vasectomy.
Use birth control if you’re sexually active in the first few months following the procedure. Your doctor needs to test your semen for sperm before you can safely have unprotected sex without the risk of pregnancy.
You can swim as long as you’re able to remove your bandages without your surgical site opening up, bleeding, or producing excessive pus. Your doctor may suggest avoiding swimming for at least a couple weeks to best allow proper healing.
You’ll still want to avoid vigorous activity or heavy exercise during the first week of recovery.
After a week or more of recovery, you should be able to resume exercising, lifting objects over 10 pounds, and doing other vigorous activities with minimal pain and discomfort.
Feel free to start having protected sex or masturbating again if you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t have unprotected sex until your doctor verifies there are no sperm in your semen at your follow-up appointment.
Your doctor will schedule a postoperative appointment about 6 to 12 weeks after the surgery. At this point, your doctor can send a semen sample to a lab to test for sperm count.
Once your semen contains no sperm, you can have sex without protection without risking pregnancy. You’ll usually need to ejaculate at least 15 to 20 times before your semen is free of sperm.
Can I still transmit sexually transmitted diseases following vasectomy?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can still be transmitted following a vasectomy, even after your doctor has confirmed there’s no sperm in your semen. You’ll still want to use protection to avoid transmitting or contracting an STD.
Severe vasectomy complications aren’t common.
Possible complications of this surgery include:
- bleeding or discharge from the surgical site after 48 hours
- pain or swelling that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- sperm granuloma, a benign growth in your testicles that’s not harmful
- blood in your urine
- nausea or loss of appetite
Seek emergency medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms:
- inability to urinate
A vasectomy is the most effective form of birth control for men. On average, vasectomies are more than 99 percent effective.
There’s still a small chance you can get your partner pregnant after a vasectomy.
Vasectomy is a highly successful outpatient procedure with few complications and a quick recovery time.
The exact time it takes to fully recover may differ from person to person, but you’ll most likely be able to resume your normal daily activities after one to two weeks, at most.
See your doctor right away if you have any complications. Don’t have unprotected sex until your doctor confirms no sperm is found in your semen.