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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 do I 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 should I expect after a vasectomy?

  • Lie on your back as much as possible the day of your procedure. Healthcare providers may apply ice and an athletic supporter to decrease swelling and bruising.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

What are the 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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