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Vasectomy is a safe, effective birth control choice for men who are certain they don't want to father a child in the future. It's a minor surgical procedure that cuts the supply of sperm to the semen by cutting and sealing two tubes, called the vas deferens, that carry sperm. After a vasectomy, sperm no longer can enter the fluid (semen) produced during orgasm or ejaculation. Although vasectomy reversals are possible, it should be considered a permanent form of birth control.
Before having a vasectomy
It's important for you to talk with your health care provider to determine if a vasectomy is the right choice for you. Discussion should include the possible side effects associated with the procedure, such as swelling, bruising and discomfort, as well as possible complications, including bleeding, infection, blood clot in the scrotum and recanalization. Recanalization happens when the body rebuilds the vas deferens (the two cut tubes) by bridging the gap between the cut ends.
Preparing for a vasectomy
It's important to complete certain arrangements prior to your vasectomy to ensure you are prepared for the procedure, including:
- Talk to your health care provider regarding medications, such as blood-thinning medications, that you may need to stop before surgery.
- Review your surgical checklist prior to your procedure.
- Shower or bathe the night before and day of the surgery.
- If your provider instructs you to shave the scrotal area, use a disposable razor to shave the hair from the front of your scrotum on the day of your surgery.
- Arrange for transportation to and from your surgery.
During the vasectomy
A vasectomy usually is completed in your health care provider's clinic or an outpatient surgery center. The procedure takes about 20 minutes. The scrotum will be injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area so you will not feel pain. Once the procedure is completed, the incision area may be stitched or it may be left open to heal and close on its own. You may remain for 30 to 60 minutes after the procedure for observation.
After the vasectomy
For the rest of the day following your vasectomy:
- Rest and do not return to work.
- Do not drive or operate motorized equipment.
- Do not use exercise equipment or participate in rough play or sporting activities.
- Do not take on responsibility for caring of children or anyone else who depends on you for care.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
- Do not directly scrub the scrotum.
To relieve discomfort and swelling, you may apply ice to your scrotum for 48 hours following your vasectomy. Apply the ice for 15 minutes every hour.
For a few days following your vasectomy, avoid sport activities, strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects. Refrain from sexual activity for about 10 days after your vasectomy, and then use another form of birth control until your provider confirms there are no sperm in your semen.
Follow-up semen analysis
After your vasectomy, you will need to complete a semen analysis to be certain it does not contain sperm.
Vasectomy is an effective form of birth control, but it will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. You should use other forms of protection if you feel you are at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection.