Before the procedure
Before doing a vasectomy, your doctor will want to meet with you to be sure it's the right form of birth control for you.
At the initial appointment (consultative visit), be prepared to discuss:
- Your understanding that vasectomy is permanent, and that it isn't a good choice if there's any chance you might want to father a child in the future
- Whether you have children and how your partner feels about the decision, if you're in a relationship
- Other methods of birth control available to you
- What vasectomy surgery and recovery involves, and possible complications
Some family medicine or general practice doctors do vasectomies, but most are done by doctors who specialize in the male reproductive system (urologists).
A vasectomy is usually done at a doctor's office or surgery center under local anesthesia, which means you'll be awake and have medicine to numb the surgery area.
During the procedure
Vasectomy surgery usually takes about 10 to 30 minutes. To perform a vasectomy, your doctor will likely follow these steps:
- Numb the surgery area by injecting a local anesthetic into the skin of your scrotum with a small needle.
- Make a small cut (incision) in the upper part of your scrotum once the surgery area is numb. Or with the "no-scalpel" technique, make a small puncture in the scrotum instead of an incision.
- Locate the tube that carries semen from your testicle (vas deferens).
- Withdraw part of the vas deferens through the incision or puncture.
- Cut the vas deferens where it has been pulled out of the scrotum.
- Seal the vas deferens by tying it, using heat (cauterizing), surgical clips or a combination of methods. Then your doctor will return the ends of the vas deferens to the scrotum.
- Close the incision at the surgery area. Stitches or glue may be used, while in some cases, the wound may be left to close on its own over time.
After the procedure
Following a vasectomy, you'll have some bruising, swelling and pain. It usually gets better within a few days. Your doctor will give you instructions for recovery. Your doctor might tell you to:
- Call right away if you have signs of infection, such as blood oozing from the surgery site; a temperature of more than 100.4 F (38 C); or worsening pain or swelling.
- Support your scrotum with a bandage and tightfitting underwear for at least 48 hours after your vasectomy.
- Apply ice packs to the scrotum for the first two days.
- Limit activity after surgery. You'll need to rest for 24 hours after surgery. You can probably do light activity after two or three days, but you'll need to avoid sports, lifting and heavy work for a week or so. Overdoing it could cause pain or bleeding inside the scrotum.
- Avoid any sexual activity for a week or so. If you do ejaculate, you may feel pain or notice blood in your semen. If you have sexual intercourse, use another form of birth control until your doctor confirms that sperm are no longer present in your semen.