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What to Expect When … Your Husband Gets a Vasectomy

Have you completed your family and are considering a permanent method of birth control? A vasectomy is a popular option for many, but both men and women may wonder what to expect.

Here’s a quick overview

vasectomyWhat is a vasectomy?

A vasectomy is a simple, permanent sterilization procedure for men. It’s generally safer, less invasive, and less painful than sterilization in women.

What to Expect

Most of my patients tell me the thought of the procedure is the worst part. They are surprised at how quickly it is completed.

The procedure is performed in a urologist’s office and only takes about 15 minutes with local anesthesia.

Typically, a tiny puncture is made for the procedure – so small, it does not require stitches. Even the most hesitant patients tend to handle the procedure very well.  

How Effective Is a Vasectomy?

It is the most reliable of all methods of contraception currently available with a failure rate of only 0.025%. The most important thing to remember is that the procedure is not considered effective immediately.  

VERY IMPORTANT: You must continue to use alternate birth control methods until the follow-up test!  

Why? It takes time for the existing sperm to clear. There is also a very rare occurrence of the tubes rejoining while they heal.  

We instruct men to bring in a sample 3 months after the procedure. Once a sample has shown no sperm remaining, other forms of birth control can be discontinued.


What to Expect Afterwards

Most men can expect to recover completely in less than one week. The first 2-3 days are the most important.  

Stock up on the bags of frozen peas (seriously, they mold around the area much better than an ice pack) and keep feet up as much as possible.   

After the first 2-3 days, he can return to normal daily activity. Many men have the procedure on a Friday and return to work on Monday.

I strongly recommend a good week before returning to exercise or heavy exertional activity (including sexual activity). Most instances of complications from vasectomies occur because of too much activity too soon following the procedure.

Does a vasectomy affect future sexual function?

A vasectomy prevents the transport of sperm. It has no effect on testosterone production or sexual functions.  

What happens if we change our minds?

Surgical reversal of a vasectomy is possible, but it is more complicated, requires general anesthesia, insurance companies usually won’t pay for it, and there is no guarantee of success.

A vasectomy should only be considered when you are both absolutely sure you have completed your family.

What’s Next?


Schedule an appointment with The Iowa Clinic Men’s Center today at 515-875-9800. The basketball tournaments (as well as movie marathons and Netflix binge watching) are a great time to sit back, relax, and recover.

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About the Author

vasectomyDr. Stephanie Pothoven is a board-certified urologist accepting new patients at The Iowa Clinic West Des Moines and Ankeny locations. She is a native Iowan and received her medical education at Des Moines University. She completed her residency in urological surgery at Michigan State University. She enjoys running, music, and spending time with her husband and two daughters.








This is just one post from our “Healthy Living” Series sponsored by The Iowa Clinic. For other topics, choose link below:
New Year’s Resolutions: for Kids!

3 Tips in Your Exercise Prescription

Treating Allergies Safety: The EpiPen Dilemma

5 Tips to a Healthier and Happier School Year

Bringing Home Baby: 5 Things Your Pediatrician Wants You to Know

This post is sponsored by The Iowa Clinic Men's Center. Be a man. Go to the doctor.

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