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Having a Vasectomy: Before, During, and After the Procedure

Vasectomy is an outpatient (same day) procedure. It can be done in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. A vasectomy blocks the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicle to the urethra during ejaculation. Cutting or tying the vas is an effective form of birth control. Your doctor will talk with you about preparing for surgery. He or she will also discuss the possible risks and complications with you. After the procedure, follow all your doctor's advice for recovery.

Preparing for Surgery

Penis and scrotum with penis pointing up to show underside. Testicles visible in scrotum. Vas on left side is cut and tied above testicle. Loop of vas on right has been brought out through small puncture.

Your doctor will talk with you about getting ready for surgery. You may be asked to do the following:

  • Sign an "informed consent" form. This must be done a few days before surgery. This form gives your doctor permission to do the procedure. It also explains the risks and complications of the procedure. Your doctor will discuss the contents of the form with you and answer your questions before you sign it. The form also states that a vasectomy is not guaranteed to make you sterile.

  • Don’t take aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen for 2 weeks before surgery. These medications can cause bleeding after the procedure. Also, tell your doctor if you take any medications, supplements, or herbal remedies.

  • Tell your doctor if you’ve had any prior scrotal surgery.

  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to give you a ride home after surgery.

  • Shower and clean your scrotum the day of surgery. Your doctor may also ask you to shave your scrotum.

  • Bring an athletic supporter (jockstrap) or pair of snug cotton briefs to the doctor’s office or hospital.

  • Eat no more than a light snack before surgery.

During Surgery

The entire procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes.

  • You’ll be asked to undress and lie on a table.

  • You may be given medication to help you relax. To prevent pain during surgery, you’ll be given an injection of local anesthetic in your scrotum or lower groin.

  • Once the area is numb, 1 or 2 small incisions are made in the scrotum. This may be done with a scalpel or with a pointed clamp (no-scalpel method).

  • The vas deferens is lifted through the incision and cut, 1 side at a time. The ends of the vas are then sealed off using 1 of several methods.

  • If needed, the incision is closed with stitches.

  • You can rest for a while until you’re ready to go home.

Recovering at Home

For about a week, your scrotum may look bruised and slightly swollen. You may also have a small amount of bloody discharge from the incision. This is normal.

To help make your recovery more comfortable, follow the tips below:

  • Stay off your feet as much as possible for the first 2 days. Try to lie flat on a bed or sofa.

  • Wear an athletic supporter or snug cotton briefs for support.

  • Reduce swelling by placing an ice pack or bag of frozen peas in a thin towel. Then place the towel on your scrotum.

  • Take medications with acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to relieve any discomfort. Don’t use aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

  • Wait 48 hours before bathing.

  • Avoid heavy lifting or exercise for 7 days.

  • Ask your doctor how long to wait before having sex. Remember: You must use another form of birth control until you’re completely sterile.

Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor right away if you have any of the following after surgery:

  • Increasing pain or swelling in your scrotum

  • A large black-and-blue area, or a growing lump

  • Fever or chills

  • Increasing redness or drainage of the incision

  • Trouble urinating

Sex After Vasectomy

Vasectomy doesn’t change your sexual function. So when you start having sex again, it should feel the same as before. A vasectomy also shouldn’t affect your relationship with your partner. It’s important to remember, though, that you won’t become sterile right away. It will take time before you can have sex without the need for birth control.

  • Until you’re sterile. After a vasectomy, some active sperm still remain in your semen. It will take time and many ejaculations before the sperm are completely gone. During this period, you must use another birth control method to prevent pregnancy. To make sure no sperm are left in your semen, you’ll need to have 1 or more semen exams. You usually collect a semen sample at home and bring it to a lab. The sample is then checked under a microscope. You’re sterile only when these samples show no evidence of sperm. Ask your doctor whether additional follow-up is needed.

  • After you’re sterile. After your doctor tells you you’re sterile, you no longer need to use any form of birth control. You’re free to have sex without the fear of an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. However, a vasectomy does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you have more than 1 sexual partner, be sure to practice safe sex by using condoms.


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