A vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure in which the vas deferens (or vas) from each testicle is cut and tied to prevent the transfer of sperm during ejaculation.

In general, a vasectomy will be performed in your urologist’s office or at an outpatient surgical center while you are awake. There are three types of procedures: conventional vasectomy, and no-scalpel vasectomy. During a conventional vasectomy, the urologist makes one or two small cuts in the skin of the scrotum. The vas is cut, and a small piece may be removed, leaving a short gap between the two remaining ends. The doctor then clips or ties the cut ends and closes the scrotal incision with dissolvable stitches.

The entire process is then repeated on the other side. During a no-scalpel vasectomy, the urologist feels for the vas under the skin of the scrotum and holds it in place with a small clamp. A special instrument is used to make a tiny puncture in the skin and stretch the opening so the vas can be gently lifted out, cut, then tied or cauterized and put back in place. During a vasectomy, local anesthesia will be injected to numb the area and eliminate pain, but you will be aware of touch, tension and movement during the procedure.

Are there any risks associated with a vasectomy?

Most patients can expect to recover completely in less than a week, and many are able to return to work as early as a day or two after the vasectomy. Sexual activity can usually be resumed within a few days. However, it is important to realize that a vasectomy, even though successful, is not effective immediately. In general, discomfort after a vasectomy is usually minimal and should respond to mild analgesics. More severe pain may indicate infection or other complications. If you notice a significant increase in the size of your scrotum or experience any discomfort, you should contact your urologist immediately. It is very important not to engage in any physical activity for three to four days after the vasectomy. By avoiding activity, you may be able to prevent discomfort. If you experience fever, scrotal redness or tenderness, you should also be evaluated by your urologist because you may have an infection.