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

Penis and scrotum showing vasectomy.
The cut ends of the vas may be tied, closed with a clip, or sealed by heat (cauterized).

Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home the same day. It can be done in a healthcare provider’s office, clinic, or hospital. Your provider will talk with you about how to get ready for surgery. He or she will also discuss the possible risks and complications with you. After the procedure, follow your provider’s advice for recovery.

Getting ready for surgery

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

  • Sign a consent form. This must be done at least a few days before surgery. It gives your provider permission to do the procedure. It 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 medicines can cause bleeding after the procedure. Also tell your provider if you take any medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements.

  • Tell your provider if you’ve had any scrotal surgery in the past.

  • 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 provider may also ask you to shave your scrotum.

  • Bring a jock strap (athletic supporter) or pair of snug cotton briefs to the provider’s office or hospital.

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before surgery.

During surgery

The entire procedure often lasts less than  30 minutes.

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

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

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

  • The vas deferens are lifted through the incision. They are then cut. The provider seals off the ends of the vas deferens using one 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.

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

  • Reduce swelling by using an ice pack. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Take medicines with acetaminophen to ease any mild pain. Don’t use aspirin.

  • Wait  48 hours before bathing.

  • Don't do any heavy lifting or exercise for  7 days.

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

When to get medical care

Call your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following after surgery:

  • More pain or swelling in your scrotum

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

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • More redness or drainage at 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 about 6 to 8 weeks after your procedure. 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 healthcare provider if more follow-up is needed.

  • After you’re sterile: After your healthcare provider 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 unwanted pregnancy. But a vasectomy does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you have more than 1 sex partner, practice safer sex by using condoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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