Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/02/2021
If you’ve decided you don’t want to have children, or if you already have children and don’t want to have any more, a vasectomy is a safe and effective surgical procedure that offers permanent birth control for you as a man.
For the most part, having a vasectomy won’t have a major effect on your sex life. Despite this, there are still several sex-related things that you should be aware of if you’re thinking of having a vasectomy.
We’ve covered these below, along with more information about how vasectomy surgery works, the postoperative recovery process and tips for having safe sex after a vasectomy.
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that provides permanent birth control for men. It’s one of the most effective methods of birth control available.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), vasectomy has an average failure rate of just 0.15 percent (in comparison, the pill is around seven percent).
During a vasectomy procedure, a surgeon will cut the vas deferens — the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the ejaculatory ducts. Several methods are used to surgically cut the vas deferens, including some methods that don’t require a surgical incision.
Vasectomy surgery is fairly short, with most procedures completed in under 30 minutes. The surgery itself is safe and very effective, with a low complication rate in the one percent to two percent range.
In the months after undergoing a vasectomy, you’ll typically have your semen tested to check that it doesn’t contain any sperm.
Although vasectomy surgery can be reversed, the reversal process is complex and not always successful. As such, it’s important to only undergo a vasectomy if you’re absolutely certain you don’t want to have any more children.
A vasectomy is generally considered a minor surgery, meaning it usually has a shorter recovery period than other surgical procedures.
After a vasectomy, it’s common to experience pain and discomfort for several days. You may have bruising and swelling on and around your scrotum after the surgery. This typically goes away over the course of several days or weeks.
To make postoperative recovery easier, your healthcare provider may recommend that you wear a supportive garment, such as a jock strap. This can help to support your scrotum and reduce pain and discomfort.
You can have sex as soon as you feel ready after a vasectomy. Most men are able to have sex about one week after the procedure, although this will likely vary based on the swelling, bruising and other symptoms you experience as part of postoperative recovery.
When you have sex for the first time after a vasectomy, take it slow and ease yourself back into sexual activity to avoid discomfort or injury.
Although a vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control, you must use birth control during the first few weeks after your procedure.
This is because semen can stay in the vas deferens after the surgery. In some cases, sperm may remain in your semen for approximately three months.
To avoid pregnancy, do not stop using birth control until your semen has been checked to verify that it no longer contains sperm.
Beyond waiting to have sex, it’s important to closely follow the instructions from your healthcare provider while you recover from vasectomy surgery.
Try to avoid any taxing physical activities in the week after surgery, then ease yourself back into an active lifestyle gradually.
Does a vasectomy cause ED? Aside from preventing you from being able to make a woman pregnant, a vasectomy won’t have any effects on your sexual performance or sex life.
While a vasectomy prevents sperm from exiting your penis, it does not prevent you from being able to ejaculate. During sex or masturbation, you’ll still reach orgasm and ejaculate as normal, with no noticeable change in your semen volume.
Although your testicles will continue to produce sperm as normal, the excess sperm will simply be reabsorbed by your body, with no effect on your fertility, sexual performance or health.
There’s also no scientific evidence that a vasectomy affects your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. If you weren’t affected by erectile dysfunction (ED) before a vasectomy, you won’t be affected after the surgery.
Although a vasectomy will prevent your partner from becoming pregnant, it won’t provide either of you with any protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To stay protected, make sure to undergo STI testing and/or use condoms whenever you have sex.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, undergoing a vasectomy won’t have any effect on your ability to produce testosterone. While the vas deferens transport sperm, testosterone is transported to your body via your bloodstream — a process that’s unaffected by a vasectomy.
In short, sex will be exactly the same as it was before you got a vasectomy, just without any risk of making your partner pregnant.
Although it’s rare, it’s possible for a vasectomy to fail, meaning you’ll still have some amount of sperm in your ejaculate after the procedure.
This can occur when the vas deferens (the internal tubes cut during a vasectomy) reattach after the procedure. This is a very uncommon complication that only affects 0.24 percent of men who undergo vasectomy surgery.
This issue can be fixed through a repeat procedure to cut the vas deferens and prevent the flow of sperm from your testicles into your ejaculatory ducts.
A vasectomy is a highly effective method of birth control for men. However, as it’s intended to be a permanent method of contraception, it’s important for you to be certain that you do not want to father any more children (or any children, if you’re childless) before undergoing this procedure.
After a vasectomy, you’ll need about one week to recover before you can have sex again. While a vasectomy will prevent you from ejaculating sperm, it won’t have any effect on your erections, testosterone or overall sexual health, meaning you can have sex normally.
Finally, since a vasectomy won’t provide protection from STIs, you’ll need to keep yourself safe through testing and/or a second method of contraception, such as condoms.