Understanding how to recover and when to do things like have sex are critical to healing after a vasectomy. Vasectomy recovery time varies, but most men can return to work after two or three days and resume normal physical activity like sex by the first week.
Adhering to these and other timelined instructions given to you by your doctor will ensure you recover safely and quickly so you can get back to "life."
Recovering immediately after a vasectomy
- Thoroughly read instructions you get from your doctor and ask any questions before you leave the office. It's not uncommon to forget some things, so have their number on file to follow up with additional inquiries.
- Go directly home. The sooner you start resting, the faster your recovery will be.
- Lean on your care person. For the first week, you'll need a caregiver to help you lift heavy objects and perform strenuous activities you've been recommended not to do.
- Wear tight-fitting underwear or an athletic supporter. Purchase a pair of tight-fitting underwear or an athletic supporter before your procedure. You'll wear it on the ride home, as well as for the next 3-4 days. This will provide your scrotum with extra support, thus minimizing discomfort.
The first week of recovery
- Stay home for a few days. Plan to stay home from work—or work from home—for 2 or 3 days after the surgery. This will give your body the time it needs to heal. Many men schedule their procedures on a Thursday or Friday in order to allow for additional rest over the weekend. Unless your job involves heavy physical labor, however, you should be able to return to work the next day if you feel ready.
- Rest in bed or on the couch. After any surgery, rest is the most important part of post-surgical healing. Expect to spend the first 2 or 3 days off your feet, either in bed or on the couch with your feet elevated.
- Avoid bathing or showering for 24 to 48 hours. Allow the incision in your scrotum to heal faster and reduce the risk of infection by staying away from showers, baths and any bodies of water in which you can submerge for at 2-3 days.
- Apply ice packs to your scrotal area for 3 days. Cold packs help reduce swelling and discomfort you might feel in your lower abdomen and scrotum once the local anesthetic used during your procedure wears off. Apply ice packs throughout the day for about 3 days. Make sure not to leave the pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time and don't make contact with your skin.
- Take Tylenol (acetaminophen) for minor pain. The vast majority of men who have a vasectomy find the pain to be tolerable with doctor-approved, over-the-counter Tylenol. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin for the first 48 hours after the procedure as these are blood thinners and increase your risk of bleeding and bruising around the incision. Severe pain is uncommon, but if it occurs, your doctor can prescribe stronger medication.
- Be on the lookout for infection. If you have more severe swelling or bruising, or if you develop a fever, chills, or discharge around the incision, contact your doctor immediately. These could indicate infection or internal bleeding.
- Limit physical activities for 3-7 days. Light activities are fine after a vasectomy, but heavy lifting and strenuous activity should be avoided to prevent opening your incision and bleeding internally. After 3-7 days, you should be able to resume normal physical activities, including running and biking.
Sex after vasectomy and how to prevent pregnancy
A vasectomy will not affect your sex drive or your ability to have erections and ejaculate, and your orgasms should also remain unchanged. But there can be some discomfort in the beginning that you should be aware of.
- Wait at least 1 week before you ejaculate. Give the tissues and vas deferens tubes injured during the procedure at least a week to heal before you orgasm. Men who have not followed these instructions—ejaculating through sex or masturbation—often have found themselves in pain afterward. But even getting sexually aroused can cause some men to experience mild aching in their testicles. All of this is normal and typically lasts for a few months after the procedure.
Also, keep in mind that a vasectomy doesn't make you sterile right away. Ejaculate after the procedure still contains some sperm, and it takes several months for the sperm remaining in the vas deferens to be ejaculated or harmlessly reabsorbed by the body. Until then, you'll need to continue using some additional form of birth control.
- Let sperm tests determine when you have sex without a condom. After about three months (and/or 20 plus ejaculations), your doctor will check your sperm count. If your initial check shows that sperm are still present, continue submitting samples every 6-8 weeks until your sperm count reaches zero. You may also be considered sterile if your sample contains fewer than 100,000 non-motile sperm, according to guidelines released in May 2012 by the American Urological Association. Check with your urologist's office to find out which standard they use. Once your doctor deems you sterile, you can begin having sex without other contraceptives.
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