The vasectomy recovery period can vary, but most men can resume normal activities within a week. In the meantime, pain relief can be achieved through over-the-counter medications and plenty of rest.
Approximately 500,000 vasectomies are performed each year in the U.S., according to WebMD. This permanent form of birth control consists of cutting or sealing the tube that carries the sperm from the testes to the urethra, preventing sperm from being released during ejaculation.
Like all surgical procedures, vasectomies require a recover period. Most men can return to work after two to three days, according to Alberta Health Services. However, some discomfort may be experienced for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
What the Experts Say
Vasectomy recovery time can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of surgery performed. There are two main types of vasectomy. Conventional vasectomy is a traditional technique that involves making two small incisions into the scrotum using a scalpel.
A no-scalpel vasectomy is a newer method that involves puncturing a small hole in the skin of the scrotum. Forceps are used to gain access to the vans deferens which is then closed in the same way as a conventional vasectomy, either sealed or tied. Here’s what some experts have to say about the vasectomy recovery period.
“Male sterilization is called vasectomy. This is easier to perform, requires less medication and less recovery time, and carries less operative risk than does a tubal ligation.”
Angela Ebron, Dr. Melody T. McCloud, Blessed Health
“Vasectomy offers several advantages. It is extremely effective as a permanent form of birth control and has a very low risk of complications compared to temporary forms of birth control or tubal ligation for women. Vasectomy does not cause any change in hormone levels in the appearance or volume of semen. It also permits the male partner to take an active role in contraceptive responsibility.”
William Alexander, Judith H. LaRosa, Helanine Bader, New Dimensions in Women’s Health
“A vasectomy is an easy procedure, not invasive surgery, not very painful, the recovery period is extremely short, and the man is often back at work within a couple of days. Some men go back the next day.”
Kenna P. Marriott, Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda
“After surgery, scrotal swelling, bruising, and discomfort will invariably occur and last a couple of weeks. It is normally recommended that a scrotal support or tight-fitting underpants are worn during the day and at night for a week after surgery, and heavy manual work or vigorous sport should be avoided for at least a week.””
Robin J. Harman, Handbook of Pharmacy Health Education
“Recovery is rapid, and sutures are absorbed in 1 to 2 weeks. A new procedure eliminates the need for an incision, decreasing the time for the procedure and the recovery period. Most protocols require two follow-up visits (usually at 6 and 12 weeks) that include semen analysis to check for aspermia. Until the analysis shows no sperm, the couple should use another contraceptive method for vaginal-penile intercourse.”
Catherine Ingram Fogel, PhD, RNC, FAAN, Women’s Health Care in Advanced Practice Nursing
Immediately After a Vasectomy
In the first 48 hours following a vasectomy, it’s common to experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort. Ask your doctor about taking an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce discomfort. Side effects should diminish within a few days. Also avoid showering or bathing in the first 24 to 48 hours following a vasectomy.
During the recovery period, support the scrotum with a bandage and tightfitting underwear. For the first two days, it can be helpful to apply ice packs to the scrotum to minimize swelling. You’ll also want to limit activity for at least the first 24 hours. Call your doctor right away if you show signs of infection, such as a temperature over 100.4 F.
During the First Week
Continue to take pain relievers as instructed by your doctor if you are still experiencing discomfort. During the first week following a vasectomy you will want to take it easy. If possible, elevate your feet on a bed or couch. Ideally, you should avoid going to work for at least two to three days after the surgery.
Throughout the first week, continue to avoid exercise, sports, or any type of exertion. Do not lift more than 15 lbs. Know that it’s normal to have some discoloration of the skin for several days following the procedure. Some men will continue to have swelling and tenderness for several days.
Recovery After the First Week
Men should typically avoid sex for at least one week following the surgery. This allows sufficient time for the body to heal. Also note that some sperm will remain in the vas deferens for several months following a vasectomy. It’s advised for couples to use another form of protection until a sperm analysis can be performed.
It usually takes about 15 to 20 ejaculations after the procedure to flush out any remaining sperm from each vas deferens, according to myDr. A semen sample is usually taken two to three months after a vasectomy to determine if any sperm are still present in the ejaculate.
While the recovery period following a vasectomy can be uncomfortable, the long-term benefits are often worth the short-term discomfort. By 10 weeks, 85 percent of men will have no sperm in their ejaculate, according to John Hopkins Medicine, making it possible for couples to engage in intercourse without fear of pregnancy.