Expert Advice: Best Ways to Recover from a Vasectomy

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Considering a vasectomy? Let’s be honest — most people aren’t comfortable thinking about the procedure. But UnityPoint Health Urologist, Mark Newton, MD, answers common questions about vasectomy surgery, helping you decide whether it’s the best contraception option for you.

Vasectomy Surgery 

What Happens During a Vasectomy?

It’s a simple procedure where the tubes allowing sperm to exit the testes are isolated and blocked using various techniques. This is done through a small incision in the scrotum, or a puncture in the scrotal skin.

Do You Get Pain Meds Before a Vasectomy?

While you are awake during the procedure, pain is controlled by injecting local anesthetic, which numbs the area. Doctors frequently give a pain pill and/or an anti-anxiety pill to take an hour prior to the procedure to help if a patient needs it. It's important not to pre-treat yourself with additional over-the-counter or prescription medications before your surgery.

Do You Get Pain Meds After a Vasectomy?

In most cases, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, used with icing, is plenty to handle the soreness and pain.

If you continue to experience significant discomfort after a couple of recovery days, let the doctor know, and they’ll take extra steps to reduce pain.

How Long Does a Vasectomy Take?

The actual procedure only takes about 20 minutes.

Can Vasectomies Cause Side Effects or Complications?

Vasectomy is a safe surgery, and one of the most cost-effective options for contraception. For most, vasectomies side effects are minimal and may include:

  • Minor bleeding
  • Blood in semen
  • Bruising of scrotum
  • Mild pain or discomfort
  • Swelling

Complications exist, but are low, with an overall complication rate of just 2%. This can include hematoma (blood clot in the scrotum), infection, chronic pain and the need for repeat procedures.

When Isn’t a Vasectomy Possible?

There are only a few situations when a vasectomy isn’t possible, or at least, not recommended. This can include bleeding disorders and poor wound healing.

Are Vasectomies Reversible?

Undoing a vasectomy is possible, but the procedure should be approached as a permanent form of male sterilization, as reversal procedures aren’t 100% successful. The likelihood of sperm returning after vasectomy is affected by duration of blockage, testicular function and the experience level of care team doing the reversal.

Vasectomy Recovery 

What is Recovery from a Vasectomy Like?

Ice, compression and rest are the three main ingredients to recovery. Expect two-to-three days of limited activity. Prevention of swelling is key to a speedy recovery. The better you are about doing these things over the first 48 hours, the better off you’ll be.

  • Ice. Use ice packs on the scrotum as often as possible, but don’t apply for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression. Wear snug underwear or compression shorts for two or three days.
  • Rest. Here’s your excuse to sit around and relax for a few days. Don’t exercise, walk for long distances or lift anything heavier than 15 pounds, including children.

After a few days, you may ease back into normal activities. Typically, it takes about two weeks before feeling 100% back to normal.

How Long Should I Wait to Exercise After a Vasectomy?

It’s normal to ease back into exercise any time after the one-week mark. Listen to your body — if anything feels off, take a break, and try again after a few more days.

When Can I Go Back to Work after a Vasectomy?

After about 48 hours, you should be able to return to work. However, if your job requires strenuous activity, talk to your doctor about what’s best for you.

When Can I Take a Shower After a Vasectomy?

Give it 24 hours, then taking a shower is OK. Allow the soap and water to flow over your incision site but avoid scrubbing the area. Avoid submerging the incisions (soaking in a bath, hot tub or swimming) for two weeks.

When Should I Call My Doctor After a Vasectomy?

If you experience any of these concerning symptoms, please call your doctor right away.

  • Fever
  • Excessive swelling
  • Increased pain
  • New lump in your scrotum
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain/burning during urination

Sex After Vasectomy 

How Long after a Vasectomy Can You Have Sex?

You may resume sexual activity one week after vasectomy, with a backup form of contraception, as the procedure doesn’t produce immediate sterility. It’s normal to have some blood in the semen for the first few ejaculations.

How Long After a Vasectomy Until There’s Zero Sperm Count?

Your sperm count will drop gradually after a vasectomy. It may take 10 weeks or longer before all viable sperm is cleared out. It’s best to get your semen tested around eight-to-12 weeks after your procedure to make sure it’s sperm-free.

Is Ejaculation Any Different After a Vasectomy?

Ejaculation after a vasectomy should be the same as it was before the procedure. The only difference in ejaculation is the absence of sperm in the semen, and you can’t see sperm. So, you shouldn’t notice any differences.

What Color is Semen After Vasectomy?

The color of your semen shouldn’t change either. It’s normal for it to appear as a clear, white or gray color. Since it’s normal for some blood to appear in the first few ejaculations, the semen may appear slightly pink, red or brown, too. If that lasts for an extended time, contact your doctor.

Does a Vasectomy Affect Sex Drive?

No, vasectomy doesn’t affect sexual function or enjoyment of sex. It shouldn’t impact your sexual performance, sex drive, ejaculation or erectile function. If you think it does, contact your doctor.

How Effective is a Vasectomy Against Conception?

There is no procedure that completely guards against conception, but vasectomy is more than 99.9% effective, if you follow all the steps correctly.