Undergoing a vasectomy can be a life-changing decision. It is one that must be made with considerable forethought. Once a man decides that this procedure is the best method of birth control for himself and his partner, his questions may revolve more around what to expect than how the procedure will ultimately affect his life. The bigger picture is already understood. Now it’s time for the smaller details, like what happens before, during, and after the vasectomy. We’ll discuss that here.
Before Vasectomy Surgery
Vasectomies are performed as outpatient procedures. Patients do not require general anesthesia and do not stay overnight in the hospital. This limits the steps that need to be taken before the procedure. Patients should:
- Stop smoking as soon as possible when considering a vasectomy. Smoking inhibits healing.
- Avoid medications and supplements that can thin the blood. Examples include aspirin and ibuprofen. Tell the doctor all medications that are being taken, prescription and over-the-counter.
- Arrange a ride home after the vasectomy.
- Shower and clean the genital area the night before surgery or day of the procedure.
The Vasectomy Procedure
Patients may recline or lie down during their vasectomy. A local anesthetic is injected into the scrotum to numb nerve-endings so no pain is felt. After the area is numb, the surgeon creates a small opening on one side of the scrotum. The vas deferens is lifted to the opening, where to tube is cut and sealed. It is then put back into place. The same steps are repeated on the opposite side of the scrotum. If necessary, stitches are placed to close the tiny incisions.
Patients expect discomfort after a vasectomy. However, the pain is not usually as significant as anticipated. Ice packs can be applied to the scrotum (with a thin towel against the skin) for short periods to relieve discomfort and swelling. Patients may prefer to recline or lie down as much as possible for a day or two after the procedure. The surgical team will discuss what pain medications can be taken to control comfort.
Within a week to 10 days, most patients can go back to work. Strenuous activity and exercise may resume about two weeks after surgery. Sexual activity can resume one week after surgery, but the vasectomy should not be relied upon as the sole form of birth control until the doctor confirms the absence of sperm in the semen.