Vasectomy: Recovery

In This Article

A vasectomy is one of the simplest forms of surgical, permanent birth control, but you still need to make plans for recovery. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks for complications, and a recovery process to consider. Learn what to expect after your vasectomy.

Surgery Follow-Up

Immediately after your vasectomy, you should expect some discomfort. While the worst should pass in a matter of days, here's what to expect.

  • Mild pain and swelling should be expected. It can be relieved with supportive garments, ice packs applied to the scrotum for 20 minutes at a time over the first 48 hours, and Tylenol (acetaminophen).
  • Some discharge or bleeding from your incision is normal. A small gauze bandage may be applied if needed.
  • Plan to rest and limit physical activity for the first day or two after surgery.
  • You can shower the day after your surgery, but you should avoid bathing or swimming for a few weeks. Be sure to pat the surgical area dry after showering. Do not rub.
  • Refrain from physical exercise, strenuous physical work, and sexual activity for at least a week after your surgery.

Your doctor should advise you to call if you experience:

  • A fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Increased pain, swelling, or discharge
  • Difficulty urinating
  • A lump in your scrotum.

Recovery Timeline

While you should be able to return to normal activity within a week of your vasectomy, there are some situations where your recovery might be delayed or extended.

  • Surgical complications like a hematoma or infection happen in about 1% to 2% of vasectomies.
  • Roughly 1% to 2% of men experience chronic scrotal pain after a vasectomy. A second surgery is not usually required.
  • Fluid buildup can occur in and around the testicle after a vasectomy. These complications can cause unusual swelling or pain that increases with ejaculation. You should call your doctor if you think you are having this problem.
  • You may experience some inflammation from an immune response that results from sperm leaking into the scrotum from the cut end of the vas deferens. This inflammation is called a sperm granuloma and develops in 15% to 40% of men after a vasectomy. These can usually be treated with mild pain relievers, but surgery may be required in severe cases.
  • In some cases, you may experience a spermatocele. This is an abnormal sac or cyst that forms in the epididymis—a small tube in the upper portion of the testicle that transports sperm. These usually resolve on their own, but may require surgery in severe cases.
  • Vasectomies are not immediately effective. You will need to use an alternative form of birth control until your doctor confirms sterility.
  • Your doctor should schedule a followup appointment for eight to 16 weeks after your vasectomy. Your semen will be tested for the presence of viable sperm. You will need to ejaculate roughly 20 times to clear all the sperm from the vas deferens after your vasectomy.
  • Vasectomies don't always work the first time. Less than 1% of vasectomies are unsuccessful, but in these cases, a repeat vasectomy may be required. A second vasectomy is indicated if viable sperm are present in a semen sample six months after your vasectomy.
  • Even when a vasectomy is considered successful, it is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. The risk of pregnancy after vasectomy in men who have been deemed sterile is still about 1 in 2,000.
  • The goal of a vasectomy is to prevent pregnancy, but it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

Coping With Recovery

While most men will not experience ongoing complications as a result of their vasectomy, coping with the procedure and the permanent changes that result can be difficult for some.

There are a number of myths associated with vasectomies.

  • A vasectomy will lower my sex drive. This is false. a vasectomy will not impact your masculinity or sex drive. You will still be able to have an erection, but there will no sperm present in the semen.
  • A vasectomy will cause harm to my sexual organs. The risk of permanent damage to the parts of your reproductive system—the penis, testicles, scrotum—is very small. Your organs should continue to function the same as before your vasectomy, and you will have no changes in your hormone—testosterone—levels.
  • A vasectomy could give me cancer or heart disease. There is no proven link between vasectomies and an increased risk of testicular or prostate cancer. The same is true for a link to heart disease.

What Happens If I Change My Mind?

You should carefully weigh your options for birth control before having a vasectomy, as this procedure should be considered permanent. If for some reason you change your mind about your vasectomy, a reversal is an option, but this procedure is expensive and not always successful.

A vasectomy reversal is called a vasovasostomy. A surgeon will perform a microsurgical technique to reconnect the cut ends of the vas deferens and restore the flow of sperm. The more time has passed since the original vasectomy, the less successful this procedure is likely to be. In one study, a reversal done three years after the initial vasectomy resulted in pregnancy in 76% of cases. Fifteen years after the initial vasectomy, a pregnancy resulted in only 30% of reversals. This procedure is not covered by most insurance plans in the United States and can be costly.

If you are concerned about fathering children in the future but still want to move forward with a vasectomy, you may want to consider sperm banking. Sperm can be collected before or after a vasectomy and stored for $300 to $1,000 per year, plus initial storage fees.

A Word From Verywell

Recovery from a vasectomy is not usually complicated, but problems can arise. Talk with your doctor before your surgery about why you want a vasectomy, what risks or complications may arise, and what your recovery will look like.

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Article Sources
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