If you know that you definitely don’t want to have any (or any more) children, a vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control. Sometimes called male sterilisation, it’s more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
But whether you’re thinking about a vasectomy or you’ve just had one, you might be wondering, ‘how soon can you have sex after a vasectomy?’
Read on to find the answer and learn more about what a vasectomy is and how it can affect your sex life.
What is a vasectomy?
A vasectomy is a simple operation that stops sperm from leaving your body, so you can’t get someone pregnant.
It involves cutting or sealing the tubes that carry sperm from your balls (testicles) to your penis.
You’ll still have erections and come (ejaculate). But when you come, the fluid that comes out (semen) won’t have any sperm in it – so it can’t fertilise an egg and lead to pregnancy.
A vasectomy doesn’t take very long – it takes around 15 minutes – and is usually done with a local anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain.
It’s very difficult to reverse a vasectomy so you should only have one if you’re completely sure you don’t want to have any (or any more) children.
How long after a vasectomy can you have sex?
After a vasectomy, it’s common to feel uncomfortable for a few days – your ball sack (scrotum) might be swollen or bruised. Simple painkillers can help and the pain should ease within a few days.
Advice on how soon you can have sex or do activities that take a lot of strength is different in different countries, so you should talk about recovery after your operation with your doctor.
It’s sometimes recommended that you wait 3 to 7 days before having sex after a vasectomy. It's a good idea to see how you feel – you may want to wait to have sex when you feel comfortable to do so.
You should avoid activities that take a lot of strength, such as sport or heavy lifting, to avoid complications – it’s sometimes recommended that you do this for at least 7 days.
The first few times you come after a vasectomy, you might notice some blood in your semen, but this is common and nothing to worry about.
Will a vasectomy affect my sex drive?
Having a vasectomy won’t affect your sex drive (libido) because it doesn’t stop your testicles making the male hormone testosterone, which stimulates your sex drive.
In fact, it might even improve your sex life. As it’s a permanent form of birth control, you and your partner won’t need to worry about pregnancy, so it may help you to be spontaneous and fully enjoy the moment during sex.
Will a vasectomy affect my erection or orgasm?
Your ability to get an erection, ejaculate and have an orgasm won’t be affected by a vasectomy. The only difference is that your semen won’t contain sperm.
Your body will still make sperm, but they will be absorbed back into your body – which isn’t harmful. And your semen won’t look or feel any different.
Should I use a condom after a vasectomy?
It’s important to know that a vasectomy doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you still need to wear a condom to get protection from STIs.
You’ll also still need to use birth control (contraception) for the first 8 to 12 weeks after having a vasectomy.
This is because although new sperm won’t be able to leave your testicles, there will still be some sperm in the tubes leading to your penis. How long this takes to clear varies, but it can take up to 20 ejaculations.
After about 12 weeks, you’ll probably be offered a test to check your semen for sperm. If it’s sperm-free, the vasectomy is thought to have worked and you can stop using birth control.
When to see a doctor
A vasectomy doesn't usually cause any problems, but it’s possible to get an infection, which may need treatment with antibiotics. You should call your doctor if you have:
- lots of pain and swelling in your ball sack area
- a fever
- blood or pus coming from the cut in the skin of your ball sack
- a vasectomy is a simple operation that stops sperm getting into your semen, so you can’t get someone pregnant, but you can have sex and ejaculate as normal
- after a vasectomy, you’ll probably have discomfort and swelling for a few days
- you may want to wait about a week before having sex, but you can do it as soon as you feel comfortable
- a vasectomy doesn’t protect you from STIs, so you might still need to use a condom
- you need to use another form of birth control for about 12 weeks after a vasectomy and your semen tests show that all the sperm is gone