Updated February 2019
Once you've decided to have a vasectomy, it's important you prepare for the procedure and the recovery period that comes after. Having everything you need and following your doctor's instructions are what make for a stress-free experience and a smoother recovery.
Your surgeon will provide you with a list of to-do's before and after your vasectomy, but we've collected some tips that will help you understand what to expect.
Do's and dont's before a vasectomy
We have our routines. Perhaps you take a daily dose of medication, skip a shower on some days, and are strictly a boxer's man. In the week leading up to your vasectomy, you'll need to disrupt this schedule a bit to ensure your safety on the day of the procedure.
Lock down a driver and caregiver in advance
If you’re going to be given an anti-anxiety medication, anesthesia, or pain medication, you will need a driver to take you to and from the facility. This person should also be prepared to help you with tasks that involve heavy lifting or strenuous movement for about 1 week.
Though you may feel ready before the 7-day mark, bearing down or lifting this short after surgery can cause your stitches (if you have a traditional vasectomy) to open and may lead to excessive swelling, bruising, and bleeding in the scrotal area.
Avoid supplements and blood thinners one week before and after vasectomy
Start eliminating blood thinners and certain oral supplements from your diet a week before surgery. These include:
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Supplements such as vitamin E and fish oil
Continue to avoid blood-thinning medications for up to a week. These medications and supplements thin the blood, increasing your chances of bleeding during and after surgery.
Practice good hygiene the day of surgery
Clean your genital area thoroughly and shave your scrotum the day of your vasectomy. This is to prevent infection and provide more visibility to the surgical site.
Take anti-anxiety meds 30 minutes before your arrival
If you tend to get nervous or tense about surgeries, your doctor might prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help you relax. Take it 30 minutes to 1 hour before the procedure to ensure it kicks in. Make sure someone drives you.
Pack your tighty whities and wear loose pants the night before
Pack a pair of tight-fitting underwear, compression shorts, or an athletic supporter to wear after the vasectomy. If you don't have one, buy one. Also, wear loose-fitting pants to the facility. All of these work to create maximum comfort for your groin area, which will be tender after surgery.
Wear the jockstrap, bandage, or tight-fitting underwear for at least 48 hours after surgery to prevent unnecessary movement of your testicles and help reduce swelling. Some men find they use these garments much longer, on average a week.
Do's and dont's after a vasectomy
After your procedure, you'll be recovering. To ensure the healing process is smooth and speedy, you should take a few precautions and follow some simple recovery tips.
Kick back for 2-3 days
For the first 2-3 days, relax and lie down as much as possible. Avoid heavy lifting, sports, and strenuous work for about a week.
Don’t submerge in water for at least 2 days
Until your stitches or puncture close, avoid bathing, swimming or submerging in water. This could take up to 5 days. Soaking in water can permit bacteria to get into your surgical site and cause infection.
Take pain medication as prescribed
Whether over-the-counter or prescription medication, make sure you take them as prescribed, including the number of dosages and time between consumption, to prevent unintended complications.
Discomfort usually lasts 1 week, and most men are fine taking ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).
Reduce post-vasectomy swelling and discomfort with ice packs
Apply cold packs to your scrotal area throughout the day for approximately 3 days. Do not apply for more than 20 minutes at a time, and do not make contact directly with the skin. A thin towel or material over the packs will prevent damage to the skin or healing tissues while reducing swelling.
Keep an eye out for post-vasectomy infection
Fever, chills, discharge from the surgical site, increased pain, and excessive scrotal swelling are all signs of an infection. If you experience one or more of these, contact your doctor immediately.
Clenny T.L., & Higgins J.C. Vasectomy techniques. American Family Physician. 1999; 60(1):137-146.
Cutie C.J., & Ongaro T.J. Patient information: Vasectomy (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. 2012.
Labrecque M., Nazerali H., Mondor M., Fortin V., & Nasution M. Effectiveness and complications associated with 2 vasectomy occlusion techniques. Journal of Urology. 2002; 168(6): 2495-2498.