A vasectomy, or male sterilization, is a process by which the vas deferens is cut or blocked in order to keep sperm out of semen. An extremely effective form of birth control, it also is appealing thanks to its minimal side effects and swift recovery time. In fact, men who have a vasectomy can have sex not long after the procedure. Dr. Puneet Masson, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Urology in Surgery and the director of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Penn Medicine, says the wait isn’t very long at all.
How Long After A Vasectomy Can You Have Sex?
“I tell patients that they can they can shower the next day and they can go out to dinner the next day, but they should do no strenuous activities for one week, and by that I mean no cardio or sexual activity for a week,” explains Dr. Masson.
The reason being is that a vasectomy is a surgical procedure and the body needs at least a week to heal.
How Is A Vasectomy Performed?
“The procedure takes about 20 minutes and patients can choose to go under local or conscious sedation — that’s like when you get your wisdom teeth out or twilight anesthesia where you can hear talking in the background” says Dr. Masson. At his clinic, it’s generally the patient’s choice which anesthesia is used.
“Then, when the patient is comfortable, we shave them down there. We prep them with a disinfecting solution and then we give the numbing medication directly in the scrotal skin,” Dr. Masson explains. “Then I find the vas deferens, which is the cord that carries the sperm. I cut that cord a tie off the edges. I burn the edges and I tuck one section of the tubes under a layer of tissue. Then I put one dissolvable stitch on the skin and move on to the other side.” One the surgery is complete, Dr. Masson says patients are put in a jock strap with a bunch of gauze and can head home. In fact, they can even drive themselves if they choose.
But because they have open wounds patients need time to heal which means keeping activity minimal.
“I typically do these surgeries on a Thursday or Friday. So I tell everyone that it's not going to be a very exciting weekend for you. It'll be chilling on your couch with a bag of frozen peas on your scrotum watching TV,” says Dr. Masson.
Once You Have Sex, Do You Still Use Contraception?
After a week of recovery, Dr. Masson says patients may go ahead and resume sex, but that doesn’t mean they can skip the contraceptives just yet.
“When you resume sexual relations, it's really important to use some form of contraception until we get a sample that looks good,” says Dr. Masson. A sample means an ejaculation sample to confirm that the patient is, in fact, sterile. “Twenty ejaculations or two months, whatever comes first, is when we test.”
Only after a provider has received the sample results and given a vasectomy patient the green light can a person safely resume intercourse contraception-free without fear of pregnancy.
Why Choose Vasectomy?
How long after a vasectomy can you have sex is just a small delay in the long-run when you consider the freedom from fertility the procedure can provide.
“The failure rate of vasectomy is one in 2000,” says Dr. Masson. “So that is more effective than any other form of contraception, which includes oral contraceptives, condoms, IUDs, diaphragms, and lateral tubal ligation.”
For couples who want to allow a partner to get off hormonal birth control or avoid condoms, a vasectomy might be the right choice. And even though it’s considered permanent sterilization, Dr. Masson does perform vasectomy reversals for patients whose family plans have changed.
Dr. Puneet Masson, MD, an assistant professor of Clinical Urology in Surgery and the director of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Penn Medicine, pennmedicine.org/providers/profile/puneet-masson