Updated February 2019
A vasectomy is a relatively simple procedure. Regardless of the simplicity, following your doctor’s instructions for recovery can help you return to your normal activities faster and reduce the risk of complications.
1. Wear supportive underwear immediately after your vasectomy
Wear supportive underwear or a jockstrap day and night for the length of time recommended by your surgeon. This harness reduces the tension on the spermatic cords, the structures that run to each testicle and contain the vas deferens, surrounding tissues, and testicular blood supply.
Be sure to change your underwear every day, and place a bandage beneath your underwear for more support.
2. Manage your discomfort with Tylenol and ice packs
Mild pain, swelling, and bruising are common after a vasectomy and should last only a few days. Try Tylenol (acetaminophen) for pain, but avoid blood-thinning medications like Bayer (aspirin) and Aleve (naproxen) as these can lead to post-surgical bleeding.
Wrap an ice pack in a towel and gently apply it to the scrotum for the first two days to reduce swelling and minimize discomfort. Apply the pack for 20 minutes a day, multiple times a day. If you don't have one handy, a hack is to use a frozen bag of veggies or a thin, folded washcloth.
3. Take medications as prescribed—both before and after vasectomy
Being older, having a poor diet, smoking, using corticosteroids, having immune system problems and/or diabetes can put you at greater risk of infection after the vasectomy.
If you have one of these risk factors, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before your procedure. Continue taking these medications as prescribed after your surgery.
4. Keep the surgical site clean and dry
Maintaining good hygiene is critical to reducing your risk of infection. When your surgeon clears you to shower—which may be the day after your vasectomy—wash the area gently with soap and water. Be sure to dry your genital area thoroughly by gently patting it with a towel or using a blow dryer.
Remember that while you can shower, you should avoid bathing in a tub of water or swimming for 5 days.
5. Limit your activity for at least 24 hours
You will need to rest for at least 24 hours following the procedure. For 2 to 3 days you should limit yourself to only light activities. Avoid sports and lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for at least one week after the surgery. If you push yourself too hard, you may reopen your incisions or cause bleeding inside the scrotum or increase your pain.
6. Return to work when ready
If you don’t have severe discomfort, you should be able to return to work 1 to 2 days after your vasectomy, as long as it is non-physical activity. If your work involves more strenuous activity, like heavy lifting or driving, ask your doctor when you can return to work.
7. Avoid sex and ejaculation for up to a week after vasectomy
Refrain from sex and ejaculation for 1 week following the procedure. This will allow the incision or small opening on the scrotum—which was created during surgery—time to heal and for the severed ends of the vas to seal.
When you are cleared to resume sexual activity, you may notice blood in your semen or feel more pain. This is often experienced upon the first few ejaculations. This is normal. It can also take several months (20 to 30 ejaculations) for your semen to be completely free of sperm. Use another form of birth control until your doctor has rechecked your semen and given you the all-clear.
8. Watch out for signs of infection
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following:
- Signs of an infection, such as an elevated temperature (over 100.4 F or 38 C) or blood leaking from the site of the incision
- Increase in pain, swelling or bruising