Updated October 2018
A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control for men. Some methods require surgeons to make a small incision in the scrotum, but the “no-scalpel” vasectomy is done without the need for a scalpel.
The no-scalpel vasectomy is popular among men for many reasons. It's less invasive than a conventional vasectomy and it reduces the risk of local complications like hematoma, infection, and discomfort. Recovery is also faster after a no-scalpel vasectomy.
How the no-scalpel vasectomy works
Your urologist will administer local anesthesia before the procedure to numb the scrotum and the vas deferens—the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. Your doctor may also give you an oral sedative to help remain relaxed throughout the procedure.
Your doctor will use special instruments to make a tiny puncture in the scrotum. This hole is then widened and the blood vessels and nerves in the area are pushed aside, thus avoiding damage with a scalpel. While one puncture may be made to address both sides, some doctors prefer using a puncture site on each side.
The vas deferens is then passed through the hole, where it is cut and sealed in the same way as a conventional vasectomy. Once the ends of the vas deferens are sealed, the sperm can no longer enter the ejaculate, which makes a man infertile. It is important to remember you are not sterile immediately and contraception must be continued until a semen analysis shows no sperm.
After your doctor places the vas deferens back into the scrotum, the surgical hole will shrink and heal on its own. Your doctor may or may not place a suture on the skin.
Benefits of a no-scalpel vasectomy
The no-scalpel vasectomy offers many benefits compared to a conventional vasectomy.
- There are fewer complications such as significant bruising and infection
- There are less pain and bleeding, both during and after the procedure
- It's a faster procedure
- It's as effective as a conventional vasectomy when performed correctly
Recovery after the procedure
Recovery after a no-scalpel vasectomy is faster compared to a conventional vasectomy, but you should still follow these guidelines, as well as your doctor's guidelines, for the best recovery:
- The local anesthetic should wear off within one to two hours. Men who have taken an oral sedative should arrange for someone to drive them home after the procedure.
- You may feel a dull ache or pain in the testicles and groin for a few days. Your doctor may prescribe a pain relief medication or suggest an over-the-counter alternative.
- You should rest on your back for the first day and apply ice packs to reduce discomfort. Your doctor may also suggest that you wear an athletic supporter or snug underwear to support the scrotum.
- Avoid heavy physical labor for two days after the procedure and avoid sports or heavy lifting for two to three weeks.
- You should be able to start having sex again in one week. However, your semen will still have some sperm in it for 12 weeks or more. Use another form of contraceptive until a semen analysis shows that you are sterile.
The most common complications after a no-scalpel vasectomy are the same as with a conventional vasectomy, but they may be less severe. Complications may include:
- Bruising of the skin of the scrotum or penis (hematoma), which usually disappears on its own within two weeks
- Swelling of the scrotum, which can be painful
- Infection around the site of the puncture hole
Serious complications are rare. Contact your doctor if any of these symptoms worsen or do not go away.