Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What to expect from a vasectomy
What is a
A vasectomy is an operation
that makes a man permanently unable to get a woman pregnant. Sperm are made in
the testicles. The sperm from each testicle normally travel through a tube,
called the vas deferens, and mix with seminal fluid, which is made by the
seminal vesicles, and prostate fluid, which is made by the prostate gland. The
sperm, seminal fluid and prostate fluid make up the semen. During ejaculation
(“coming”), the semen goes through the penis and outside the body. A
vasectomy involves cutting the vas
on each side so that sperm can no longer get into the
How is a vasectomy
A vasectomy is usually done in
your doctor’s office or in an outpatient surgery center. The operation
takes about half an hour. You’ll be awake during the procedure. Your
doctor will give you a local anesthetic to numb your scrotum (the sac of skin
that holds your testicles). After you’re numb, your doctor will cut a
small opening on one side of your scrotum and pull out part of the vas deferens
on that side. You may feel some tugging and pulling. A very small section of the
vas deferens is removed. The ends of the vas deferens where the section has been
taken will be sealed by stitching them shut, by searing them shut with heat, or
by using another method. You doctor will then do the same thing on the other
side. Your doctor will close the 2 openings in your scrotum with stitches. After
3 to 10 days, the stitches will disappear by
A new type of vasectomy,
called the no-scalpel vasectomy, involves working through a very small puncture
(a hole) in the scrotum. The puncture is so small that it heals without
stitches. This type of vasectomy is becoming more
How effective is vasectomy
in preventing pregnancy?
be the safest, most effective kind of birth control. Only about 15 out of 10,000
couples get pregnant the first year after a vasectomy. This is a better result
than any other type of birth control besides not having
Are there any reasons I
shouldn’t have a
Don’t have a vasectomy
unless you’re sure you don’t want to have children in the future.
Your doctor will probably talk to you to make sure you understand this. Other
reasons you may need to wait to have a vasectomy or may not be able to have one
include having an infection on or around your genitals or having a bleeding
disorder. Some vasectomies can be undone, or “reversed,” but the
surgery is expensive and must be performed in a hospital. Even though most men
can ejaculate sperm after the reversal surgery, the sperm are often not able to
fertilize an egg. The likelihood of pregnancy declines the longer you wait to
have the vasectomy reversed. Most men who decide to reverse a vasectomy do so
because they get remarried and change their minds about having
How can I prepare for the
On the day of the operation,
bring a jockstrap (an athletic supporter) with you and make sure your genital
area is clean. Your doctor will probably give you instructions on how to clean
the area before you come in. This may require cleaning the area with a special
solution for 10 minutes. This may help prevent infections. Your doctor may
suggest that you and your spouse sign a release and that you have someone drive
you home after surgery. If you like, you can bring a radio and headphone set
with you to help you relax during the operation. Check with your doctor to make
sure this is okay.
What can I expect
after the operation?
Right after the
operation, your doctor will have you lie down for a couple of hours with an ice
pack placed on your scrotum. You may have some bruising in the area of the
surgery. The bruises should slowly lighten and be gone in about two weeks. You
should feel back to normal within a couple of weeks. To speed healing, follow
the tips below.
Is it okay to take
Avoid taking aspirin,
ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), ketoprofen (brand names: Orudis
KT) or naproxen (brand name: Aleve) 2 weeks before or after the operation. All
of these can thin your blood and cause bleeding. Use acetaminophen (brand name:
Tylenol) to relieve
Tips for taking
care of yourself after a vasectomy
- For the first 8 hours after the operation, rest
with your legs elevated or lie on your back. Raise your testicles slightly by
putting a rolled-up washcloth under your scrotum. Place an ice pack rolled in
another towel on top of your scrotum. Keep your jockstrap on and place the ice
pack outside of it.
- Keep the area dry for 24 hours.
- Take it easy for a couple of days. Use an ice
pack when resting.
- Avoid strenuous activity, including heavy
lifting, for a week.
- Wear a jockstrap or tight underwear for the first
few days or as long as needed to ease the dragging feeling.
- Avoid having sex or ejaculating for the first
week after the operation.
- Use another type of birth control until your
doctor tells you that your semen is clear of
When can I go back
If you have a desk job, expect
to return to work after a couple of days. If you do physical labor, or walk or
drive a lot, talk with your doctor about when you can go back to
Will the vasectomy work right
No. You’ll need to
ejaculate as many as 15 to 20 times before the sperm will be cleared from both
the vas deferens. For that reason, keep using some form of birth control. Your
doctor will ask you to bring in samples of your ejaculation after the operation.
Only after you have 2 sperm-free samples will you be considered unable to get a
woman pregnant. This may take 3 months or
What are the risks of a
Problems that might occur
after your vasectomy include bleeding, infection and a usually mild inflammatory
type of reaction to sperm that may have gotten loose during the surgery (called
sperm granuloma). Call your doctor if you notice any of the signs listed below.
Another risk is that the 2 ends of the
vas deferens may find a way to create a new path to one another. This
doesn’t occur very often. But if it does occur, sperm can get into your
semen, and you’ll be able to cause a
Vasectomies don’t raise
the risk of heart disease. They may be associated with a higher risk of prostate
cancer. But this added risk of prostate cancer is very small. Your doctor may
recommend that you be checked for prostate cancer periodically. This may be more
important if you have a blood relative who has had prostate cancer. Talk with
your doctor about how often you should be
Call your doctor
- You have a fever.
- You have swelling that won’t go down or
keeps getting worse.
- You have trouble urinating.
- You can feel a marble-sized lump forming in your
- You have bleeding from an incision that
doesn’t stop even after you’ve pinched the site between 2 gauze pads
for 10 minutes.
happens to the sperm and
Once sperm can’t get
through the vas deferens, your testicles will begin making fewer sperm. Your
body will absorb the sperm that are made. But your testicles will keep making
testosterone, a male sex hormone, just as they did before the
Will a vasectomy affect
my sex life?
After you have healed from
the vasectomy, your sex life shouldn’t change at all. You’ll still
ejaculate almost the same amount of semen as you did before, and you won’t
notice a change in your sex drive. In fact, some men report having an even
stronger sex drive because they no longer have to worry about