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A vasectomy

is a procedure to make you sterile. It is a permanent form of birth control. The vas deferens (sperm tubes) are cut so that the semen does not contain sperm.

Male Reproductive System

How to prepare for a vasectomy:

  • Talk to your partner about the type of birth control you will use right after your procedure. You will need to use another form of birth control until tests show that your semen does not contain sperm. This may take up to 3 months. When you have sex, use a condom, or have your partner use hormonal birth control, an IUD, or a diaphragm during this time. This will help prevent pregnancy.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare for your procedure. He or she may want you to bring an athletic supporter with you. You will use it after surgery to support your scrotum while you heal. You may be given instructions for how to clean your scrotum on the day of surgery.
  • Your provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He or she may tell you not to take certain medicines for a week before surgery. These include aspirin, NSAIDs, or other medicines that thin your blood. Talk to your healthcare provider if you take anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure and stay with you. You may be given antibiotics before the procedure to help prevent a bacterial infection. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to antibiotics.

What will happen during a vasectomy:

  • You may be given local anesthesia as an injection in your scrotum. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure. You may instead be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during the procedure. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
  • An incision will be made on one side of your scrotum or down the middle. One of your sperm tubes will be pulled through the incision. Your surgeon will cut the sperm tube and remove a small portion of it. He or she may then close one or both ends with stitches or a heat treatment. He or she also may sew a piece of body tissue between the cut ends of your tubes. Your surgeon will then do the same procedure to your other sperm tube. Your incisions may be closed with stitches, tissue glue, or left open to heal. Germ-fighting medicine may be put on your scrotum, and the area will be covered with a bandage.

What to expect after a vasectomy:

Any bruises should go away within about 2 weeks of surgery. The following can help reduce pain and swelling:

  • Lie on your back as much as possible the day of your procedure. Place a cushion such as a washcloth or small towel under your scrotum to elevate it.
  • Apply ice on your scrotum for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for 2 days. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Wear an athletic supporter for at least 2 days after your procedure. This will decrease pain and swelling, and protect your wound.

Risks of a vasectomy:

You may bleed more than expected. Your scrotum may be bruised or inflamed. You may get an infection in the surgery wound, or a urinary tract or epididymal infection. The epididymis is a long, curled tube on the back of your scrotum. You may feel pain when you have an erection. Granulomas may form if sperm leaks out of your cut sperm tube. Granulomas are lumps that forms under your skin. You may not become sterile if one or both of your cut sperm tubes grow back together.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • You see blood in your urine or semen.

Contact your healthcare provider or surgeon if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You feel pain or burning when you urinate.
  • You have worsening pain in your scrotum, even after you take medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Your provider will talk to you about when to start any medicines you stopped taking before surgery. You may not be able to take aspirin for a week after surgery. You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Do not have unprotected sex until directed:

You will not be sterile right away after a vasectomy. It will take time for all the sperm to be cleared from your body. You may need to ejaculate about 20 times or wait up to 3 months for the sperm to clear. Keep using another form of birth control during this time. You will need to bring in samples of ejaculations for about 2 to 3 months after your vasectomy. Your healthcare provider will check the samples for sperm. When the samples do not contain sperm, you will be able to start having sex again. No sperm in your ejaculation samples means you will not be able to get a woman pregnant.

Wound care:

Care for your wound as directed. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.


You may walk and drive normally the day after your procedure. Do not play sports, do yard work, or lift anything heavy until your healthcare provider says it is okay.


You may be able to go back to work in a few days. This depends on the kind of work you do. If you have to do a lot of physical activity or you drive for work, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can tell you when it safe for you to return to work.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.