Vasectomy recovery: Duration, what to expect, tips and more

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Vasectomy is a quick outpatient procedure with a short recovery period. However, the care you take during the first week can be the difference between a swift, painless recovery and a sore, uncomfortable experience. Here are some simple yet effective tips to help you ensure a successful recovery and manage post-vasectomy discomfort.

How much time do I take off work?

Most men take a couple of days off, but it does depend on the type of work you do and your personal circumstances. If it’s a desk job going back to work earlier is possible. If your job involves physical movement, however, take your doctor’s advice, but expect that you’ll likely have to take about a week off. The majority of vasectomies are done on a Thursday or a Friday to better fit into people’s schedules.

What’s the best way to look after yourself after the procedure?

Get plenty of rest

Lack of rest is frequently cited as a cause for a slow recovery and post-operative complications. Relax and stay off your feet as much as possible to avoid straining your scrotum. Try lying on your back with your feet elevated, as that will improve blood circulation.

Wear supportive underwear

Wearing a jockstrap or athletic supporter right after your surgery will help reduce discomfort caused by increased pressure on the spermatic cords. A jockstrap supports the muscles and other structures surrounding the scrotum much better than just wearing tight-fitting underwear. Keep your jockstrap on day and night until you no longer need it and make sure to change into a clean pair every day to reduce the risk of procedure site infection. Some men may feel more comfortable when wearing a jockstrap under or over their regular tight-fitting underwear or boxers.

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Use ice packs to reduce discomfort and swelling

Using an ice pack helps the healing process by reducing swelling and minimizing inflammation in the scrotum. Gently press the cold pack against your scrotum for 20 minutes several times a day to relieve pain and discomfort. Make sure to put the cold pack outside of your underwear and not directly against the skin. You’ll want at least two, so you can have one in the freezer and the other pack on the surgery site when you need it.

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Don’t do any heavy lifting or exercise

Avoid all strenuous physical activity for a couple of days, and wait two to three weeks to resume more strenuous activities like exercise or heavy lifting. This could irritate the surgical site and cause blood to leak into your scrotum.

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Avoid sexual activity

You should wait at least a few days before having sex again after a vasectomy, however, most doctors recommend waiting for a week. It’s important to note that this includes masturbation and oral sex. Remember: you won’t be sterile right away!

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Take pain medication if necessary

For pain relief, you may take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Avoid blood-thinning medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) and aspirin, as these may increase the risk of bruising and post-surgical bleeding around the incision.

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A donut-shaped pillow can ease discomfort when sitting

If you need to be sitting for extended periods of time. A donut-shaped pillow can help reduce discomfort. However, you should lie down as much as you can for the first 24 hours.

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Follow your doctor’s post-op instructions

Last but not least, make sure to follow all of your doctor’s post-operative instructions. Even though you might feel great immediately after your surgery, failure to get adequate rest can lead to additional problems and cause unnecessary pain.

What kind of pain is normal after a vasectomy?

Immediately following your procedure, you may feel a dull ache and mild pain in your scrotum and groin as the anesthesia wears off. Most men experience swelling and minor pain at the site of the operation for two to three days after the procedure, although the exact length of time will vary from person to person. This pain is often described as an ache or feeling of tenderness. Many men report resuming light activity within a day or so, while others need to wait a little longer.

How long will the bruising and swelling last?

Some men report little or no swelling and bruising, but for most, the bruising gets worse for a few days before improving and then disappearing by the end of the second week. The swelling typically goes down after a few days.

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Does a vasectomy leave a scar?

The incision is usually very small so seeing a scar after you’ve made a full recovery will be very difficult. It may be possible to see the scar if you know where the incision was, and you are examining the site closely with good lighting. We have a page that has pictures of vasectomy scars after healing.

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How long does it take for a vasectomy to become effective?

A vasectomy is not effective until your system is cleared of live sperm. Even though the procedure blocks the re-supply of sperm immediately, it can take up to 2 to 3 months (sometimes even longer) to clear the active sperm already in your system. This means other means of birth control must be used until the doctor verifies that you are sterile with a post-vasectomy semen analysis.

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According to the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice up to 42% of men didn’t return for post-vasectomy semen analysis despite knowing that the confirmation of sterility was necessary1Christensen RE, Maples DC. Postvasectomy Semen Analysis: Are Men Following Up? The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Published online January 1, 2005:44-47. doi:10.3122/jabfm.18.1.44 Common reasons for this may include men feeling inconvenienced or embarrassed, simply forgetting, or mistakenly thinking that they are already sterile. It can’t be stressed often enough how important it is to prove you are sterile before having unprotected sex.

Summary

Some discomfort, swelling, and bruising is to be expected after your vasectomy, but these symptoms usually subside within a couple of days. The most important part of the recovery is taking it easy. While many men like to “tough it out”, simply getting off your feet for a day or two will absolutely make your recovery less painful, quicker, and a more pleasant experience overall.

Severe pain or pain that persists longer than a week after the surgery may indicate some sort of complication. If you have any concerns about your pain levels, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor immediately.

References and further reading Vasectomy-Information.com has a strict sourcing policy. We rely on evidence-based medicine, peer-reviewed studies, reputable clinical journals, and medical associations. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Christensen RE, Maples DC. Postvasectomy Semen Analysis: Are Men Following Up? The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Published online January 1, 2005:44-47. doi:10.3122/jabfm.18.1.44
  2. Vasectomy (male sterilisation). NHS. Published February 22, 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/vasectomy-male-sterilisation/
  3. Pre & Post Vasectomy Instructions. Department of Urology, University of Virginia School of Medicine. https://med.virginia.edu/urology/for-patients-and-visitors/mens-health/vasectomy-how-it-works/pre-post-vasectomy-instructions/
  4. Post-Vasectomy Care & Recovery | Patient Instructions. Pollock Clinics. https://www.pollockclinics.com/no-scalpel-vasectomy/after-vasectomy/
  5. Vasectomy patient instructions. Michigan Institute of Urology. P.C. Published August 2009. https://www.michiganurology.com/wp-content/themes/miu/files/form-vasectomy-patient-instructions.pdf
  6. After Your Vasectomy: Key Points. Lawrence Urology Specialists. Published March 30, 2017. https://www.lmh.org/app/files/public/2212/lus-after-vasectomy.pdf

Medically reviewed by

Dr. David Tyson, MD

Review date

June 5, 2021

Authored by

Vasectomy-Information.com content team

Last updated

June 5, 2021