How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy surgery is a safe and effective form of permanent male birth control. Recovery after surgery usually takes a week. People may experience pain and discomfort following the procedure; thus, taking care of yourself after the procedure is vital.

What is a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a form of male birth control in which the surgeon cuts the supply of sperm to the semen. This outpatient procedure is done by cutting and closing the tubes that carry and deliver the sperm. Usually, vasectomy has a low risk of complications and can be performed in a urologist’s office under local anesthesia. The procedure is quick and takes 30 minutes to complete. 

Total recovery time is a maximum of 8-10 days. However, remember that recovery also depends on your perception of pain and your ability for tissue healing.

Why is the Reason for a Vasectomy?

Vasectomy is a safe birth control choice for men who don’t want to be a father in the future or men who no longer wish to be a father of more children. About 50 million men have undergone vasectomy — approximately 5% of all married men of reproductive age. In the United States, More than 500,000 men choose to have vasectomies every year. 

  • Vasectomy is a nearly 100 percent effective method of preventing pregnancy.
  • Vasectomy is an outpatient surgery with a minimal risk of complications or side effects.
  • The cost of a vasectomy is far less compared to the cost of female sterilization (tubal ligation) or the long-term expenses associated with birth control medications for women.
  • A vasectomy eliminates the need for taking birth control steps before sex, such as using condoms.

What to Expect Before the Surgery?

Before the procedure, you have to make an appointment with your surgeon to understand the procedure and to discuss if it is a suitable form of birth control for you. 

At the initial appointment (consultative visit), your doctor may ask:

  • Your understanding that vasectomy is permanent and may not be suitable if there’s any possibility of wanting to father a child in the future
  • Whether you have children and your partner’s perspective on the decision, especially if you’re in a relationship
  • Other methods of birth control that may be available to you
  • What is vasectomy surgery, including recovery and possible complications

How is the Vasectomy Surgery Done?

Vasectomy surgery usually takes a maximum of 30-40 minutes. The surgery is performed by specialists in the male reproductive system, known as urologists. To perform the surgery, your doctor will follow these steps:

  • Numb the area by injecting a local anesthetic with a small needle into the skin of your scrotum.
  • Once the surgery area is numb, make a small incision in the upper part of your scrotum. Alternatively, use the “no-scalpel” technique, which involves a small puncture instead of an incision.
  • Identify the tube that carries semen from your testicle (vas deferens).
  • Gently pull a segment of the vas deferens through the incision or puncture.
  • Cut the exposed part of the vas deferens where it has been pulled out of the scrotum.
  • Close the vas deferens by tying them, using heat (cauterizing), surgical clips, or a combination of methods. Subsequently, return the ends of the vas deferens to the scrotum.
  • Close the incision at the surgery area,  using either stitches or glue or allow the wound to close over time, in some instances naturally.

What to Expect After the Surgery?

Following the surgery, you might suffer bruising, swelling, and aches. It usually gets better independently within some days. Your surgeon will provide you with instructions for recovery, including:

  • Call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms of infection, such as blood oozing from the surgery site, a temperature of more than 100.4 F (38 C), worsening pain or swelling, or redness.
  • Support your scrotum with a bandage and tight-fitting underwear for at least two days after your vasectomy.
  • Use ice packs for the scrotum for the first two days.
  • Limit some activity after surgery. You might need to rest for a day after surgery. You can do light activity after two or three days but must avoid sports, lifting, and heavy work for a week. 
  • Consult your doctor for any sexual activity for a week or so. Furthermore, If you have sexual intercourse, use another form of birth control until your doctor confirms that sperm are no longer present in your semen.

You will ejaculate semen (seminal fluid) after a vasectomy, but it will no longer contain sperm (the reproductive cells) once you have ejaculated about 20 times. A vasectomy blocks the sperm made by the testes from delivering the semen. 

The Bottom Line

Vasectomy is an outpatient procedure known for its high success rate, minimal complications, and rapid recovery. Recovery times may vary, but generally, you should be able to return to your regular daily routine within one to two weeks at the latest. If you experience any complications, it’s crucial to consult your doctor promptly. Refrain from engaging in unprotected sex until your doctor verifies the absence of sperm in your semen.