IF YOU’RE CONSIDERING getting a vasectomy, you might be a little worried about what it’ll mean for your sex life. It’s a logical fear—there’s a knife being taken to your junk, after all.
Here’s the good news: Serious complications are incredibly rare with vasectomies, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, and you don’t have to wait very long to have sex again after a vasectomy. Plus, it’s nearly 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, so when you do get back to having sex, you can do so without the fear of procreation—which might even make your sex life better. No anxiety!
That said, there are still some important things to know about sex after a vasectomy. Below, we answer all your sex-related vasectomy questions.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a quick, minimally invasive procedure done to cisgender men and people with a penis to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The procedure blocks sperm from getting into the semen by cutting the vas deferens, the tube that carries the sperm from the testicles to be mixed with the rest of the ejaculation fluid, which comes from the prostate.
“What we’re doing with the vasectomy is basically disconnecting the tube so that sperm can’t get from point A at the testes to point B at the prostate,” explains Barbara Chuback, M.D., urologist and assistant professor of urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC.
How soon can I return to sex after a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure, meaning you don’t have to be admitted for an overnight stay at the hospital. The recovery time at home is about a week.
“I tell my patients to be a ‘couch potato’ for about two days after the procedure where they are taking it easy, wearing supportive underwear, and icing the area as needed,” says Wesley Baas, M.D., urologist, assistant professor of surgery and director of men’s heath at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Generally, though, Baas suggests waiting about a week to do any intense movements, such as heavy lifting, running, or—yes—having sex.
Will I be sterile immediately after my vasectomy?
WARNING: No, you will not! So don’t jump into unprotected sex as soon as you’re done recovering.
In a vasectomy, the vas deferens is cut on the testicle side of the line, which helps keep the surgery minimally invasive, Chuback says. There’s just one consequence to this strategy: there’s still a full tube of sperm that needs to flush out of your body before you are fully sterile. Typically, this takes about 15 ejaculations—or about “three months after the surgery, if you can’t be bothered to keep count,” Chuback says.
After those 15 ejaculations or three months (whatever comes first), it’s important to get a semen analysis done to confirm that the pipe is all clear. This will normally happen at your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Once that’s confirmed, you’re safe to stop other forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy—though you’ll still need to use protection if you want to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Will it be painful?
According to Bass, patients are surprised at how little this procedure hurts. Of course, people tolerate pain differently, but “in general, it is usually much less pain than [patients] worry it to be,” Baas says.
As for whether it’ll hurt to have sex again after a vasectomy, you should be in the clear as long as you’ve rested properly after your procedure and iced the area as needed to allow swelling to come down.
Will getting a vasectomy affect my sex drive? (And any chance it’ll make me last longer?)
Don’t worry: blocking your sperm won’t do anything to your sex drive. “Vasectomy is merely blocking the pathway for sperm getting out,” Baas says. “As such, it does not really change much about sex for men.”
That includes how long you last in bed. Sorry, guys, but the rumor that you’ll last longer in bed after a vasectomy is a myth. (FYI, here are some ways to actually last longer in bed.)
Will ejaculating be different after a vasectomy?
It’s normal to bind blood in the ejaculate the first few times you finish after a vasectomy, according to Baas.
Other than that, your ejaculate will be almost entirely the same. Sperm makes up just 2-5% of ejaculate; the rest consists of seminal plasma (hence the term “semen”). So, the amount of fluid you ejaculate won’t noticeably change. Nor will your ability to have an orgasm, thankfully.
Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.