This is my experience with the vasectomy procedure, including the recovery process.
Brief Facts on Vasectomy
Doctors performed the first vasectomy on a dog in 1823. They performed the first human vasectomy a short time after that. However, the procedure didn't become common until after the Second World War. India launched the first national program in 1954.
Vasectomy is a simple, safe procedure that is an excellent solution to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It has a low rate of failure. The alternative is that the woman undergoes a tubal ligation. That is a major surgery with a much higher rate of failure compared to vasectomy. Despite these risks, many men compel their partners to undergo tubal ligation. Usually, it involves their sense of virility and its connection to their sense of self.
Compared to tubal ligation, a vasectomy is easy, safe, and effective.
I believe that vasectomy is the right choice when deciding how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. I hope that this article will convince some men to go in that direction. Recovery after the procedure includes a minimal amount of discomfort and is relatively easy.
The following will provide concise details about what to expect from a vasectomy.
Visiting the Doctor Prior to the Vasectomy
Prior to getting a vasectomy, a doctor will require a pre-procedure visit. You may not realize when you go to the first doctor's visit that you will not be getting the procedure that day. So, don't worry that the doctor might spring a surprise on you. It certainly occurred to me that the doctor might tell me he was ready to go. I wasn't quite ready, of course. And, I was a bit nervous this might happen.
The doctor will ask you some basic questions and tell you what to expect from the procedure. Depending on your doctor, the entire time at the doctor's office during the procedure will take about 90 minutes. Although the actual procedure takes only 20 minutes. The doctor will tell you not to take any aspirin, Advil, or similar drugs that can result in increased bleeding.
Visiting the Doctor for the Vasectomy Procedure
Expect to have some anxiety prior to the visit or right before the procedure. In my case, I became a little nervous waiting for the doctor to finally arrive while lying on the table with a sheet over my genitals. Prior to that, a registered nurse or similar staff member will prepare you for the procedure by cleaning the work area (your scrotum) and shaving it. Effectively, the entire area will be sterilized. I've got to say, having my scrotum shaved wasn't very pleasant. Also, depending on how your doctor does the procedure, the nurse (in my case it was a male nurse), may set up a cauterizing tool, which requires a big, sticky pad being attached to your thigh (the removal of this pad was like ripping off a giant bandaid).
The doctor came into my procedure room and began by performing an examination. Shortly thereafter, he began the actual procedure by injecting lidocaine into my scrotum. Of the many things that happen during the procedure, the lidocaine injections were the most uncomfortable. There were probably four injections total. Beyond that, I couldn't feel much of anything. The cauterizing gun does sound like a low-grade cattle gun, but it's not disturbing. The procedure does indeed take a short amount of time. I actually sent a few emails using my phone while the procedure was going on to amuse my friends.
The procedure itself involves making a small incision below the base of the penis and then cutting the tubes that deliver the sperm, known as the Vas Deferens. Both tubes can be cut using the same incision.
After the procedure is over, the nurse or doctor will advise you to take it easy, stay off your feet for a few days, and avoid heavy lifting. I asked some questions about picking up my kids and was told if I had to, it was okay, but it was better avoided. I was told I would need to provide a sperm sample in 30 days. I was to avoid strenuous physical activity for three days. Basically, stay off my feet. My plan to return to work in three days was approved. I was told riding my bike should wait at least a week.
Read More From Patientslounge
One Year Later: An Update
The major worry among men who get a vasectomy is this: will everything work the way it used to? The answer to that question—at least for me and probably most other men—is yes.
It is now one year later, and everything feels exactly the same. Function is exactly the same. Sensation is exactly the same. A friend of mine who had the procedure described a change in feeling as feeling "fuller," but I never experienced that. I was good to go once the incision healed up.
Ultimately, the choice to have a vasectomy is each man's. For me, it proved to be a safe and relatively uneventful experience. I highly recommend it as a form of permanent birth control.
The Days Following the Vasectomy
I drove myself home from the procedure, about a fifty-minute drive. My scrotum was numb and I didn't really notice much when the anesthetic wore off. I was not sent home with any pain medication. Only ice and Tylenol were advised. Although I moved a bit slowly all night, I didn't require any Tylenol. I did use ice as it keeps swelling down. Overall, I felt like somebody had kicked me in the balls, but the discomfort was very minor. That night of sleep was erratic, but since I have kids, it was hard to notice too much of a difference. I usually sleep on my side and I tried to be careful when I rolled over, but ultimately, I slept on my back due to comfort.
I tried to apply ice and remain horizontal as much as possible. There was no further pain, just a very mild amount of discomfort. Again, like I'd jarred myself. Things were a bit swollen, but not too much, and there was some bruising near the base of the penis. I walked around, albeit slowly, and picked up my 7-month-old son without much concern. I was a tiny bit uncomfortable most of the day, but there was no pain. I moved a little bit more slowly than normal.
In my mind, this was where things definitely felt back to normal. I could still sense that I had been worked on, but I felt like I could move normally. I was getting up easily (I had to get my infant son from his room) and felt good.
I felt like I could have gone back to work, but had planned to stay home and follow the guidelines for recovery. There were moments of feeling a little tight, but nothing remotely painful. Nothing unusual. I ran up the stairs a little bit too fast and felt a little bit odd, but there was no pain or anything.
Slept great. Felt normal.
Went back to work. It snowed and was very slippery outside and I had to walk to work on slippery sidewalks, which concerned me a bit, but nothing happened. I even slipped once and almost fell and didn't feel anything. Anyway, I can still sense something was done down there, but overall I felt great. Incidentally, I still have used not a single painkiller post-procedure. The bruising around the base of the penis is more visible now, having moved a bit, but there's no pain.
I felt a little sorer after a day of work than I expected. Overall, it was very insignificant, but it was noticeable. After all, you sit around all day on something that's been operated on and you're bound to notice as you shift. Tight pants are not recommended. Also, perhaps the strangest thing, is that the bruising moved around. Most of the purple spots went from being on my testicles to the top of my penis. For anyone who's ever had a bruise, you know it can move. When it's in this area of your body, it's a bit strange.
Note: I've decided to publish what I have here and will add to it as information becomes available. There's still some sperm sampling I have to do, but other than that, this pretty much covers the experience.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Allen Donald
Gail Anthony on December 07, 2011:
You've provided some excellent information in a well written article.