Gone are the days when a man’s virility is measured by his reproductive prowess.
In the U.S, for instance, up to 500,000 vasectomy procedures are performed yearly, while annual female sterilizations tally 700,000 on average, half of which is done 48 hours after childbirth.
These figures are not at all surprising, as the cost of raising a child continues to go over the roof, thanks to the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and services.
According to many, vasectomy pain is incomparable to childbirth, but we’re willing to bet that men, no matter how masculine, will appreciate the use of ice packs to conquer post-operation pain.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of vasectomy and teach you how to skillfully ice your way to recovery.
What is a vasectomy?
Male sterilization or vasectomy is cost-effective and it is one of the safest permanent birth control procedures available. The operation aims to cut or block the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm into the semen. In essence, a man will be shooting blanks during ejaculation.
How is a vasectomy done?
A vasectomy is done via two procedures, classified on how the surgeon accesses the vas deferens. There’s conventional vasectomy, a procedure where the doctor cuts small incisions on either side of the scrotum before cutting or blocking the vas deferens; and with the no-scalpel vasectomy, where the vas deferens is held outside with a clamp, small holes in the scrotum are made via a needle to reach the tube, which is then tied off, cauterized or blocked.
Of the two, the latter is preferred because it is less invasive and therefore requires less healing time. Because there’s no stitching nor scarring involved, the risks of infection and other complications are reduced.
How much does a vasectomy cost?
In the United States, a vasectomy costs from $1,600 to $3,000, depending on where you’re having it. Some health insurance companies cover this procedure, further reducing the fees.
At face value, you’d think buying contraceptive pills and condoms are cheaper, but comparing the cumulative costs for these methods versus the one-time vasectomy fee will prove you wrong.
What to expect after a vasectomy
Even if you’re not required to stay in the hospital after surgery, you can still get bruises and swelling on your scrotum and experience mild to moderate pain. Blood may accompany your semen, too.
In about a couple of weeks, the discomfort should disappear, along with the bruising.
8 ways to expertly recover from a vasectomy at home
- Get some rest – A key element to successful recovery starts with taking it easy. Sit around and feel like a king even just for a few days. Avoid any activity that requires you to stand up for too long, as gravity could aggravate your delicate and swollen genital tissues.
- Elevate your feet – You might think of it as somewhat awkward, but try raising your feet while lying down. Increased blood circulation leading to faster healing is what you’ll get by spending just a few minutes doing this.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects – Vigorous activities and heavy lifting are best avoided to prevent further injuries. Talk to your wife or partner into agreeing that you can’t be Superman for a week or so.
If you’re a health buff, avoid leg presses, crunches and squats as these, too, put pressure on your lower body.
- Maintain proper hygiene to prevent infection – While the risk of infection in a no-scalpel vasectomy procedure is low, it is still possible if your incision is not properly taken care of. Prevent infection by always keeping your genital area clean.
Change your underwear at least twice a day, more if you’re prone to sweating down there.
- Keep dry – As bacteria thrive in a damp environment, keeping yourself and your genitals dry keeps infection and irritation at bay.
Forget about taking a warm, soothing bath in the tub or swimming in the pool for at least five days after surgery. You can shower only two days after your vasectomy, and always pat your genitals dry with a towel or use a hairdryer before wearing your undergarments.
- Wear proper support – Compression shorts or athletic supporters are your best friends for the first week or two following your vasectomy. These garments provide your recently traumatized and delicate man parts with much-needed support as you move, making pain more bearable.
- Take doctor-prescribed medications – Your physician knows which anti-inflammatory drugs work best for you, considering your other health issues (for instance, stomach ulcers and allergies). In general, painkillers such as acetaminophen or naproxen work fine.
- Reduce discomfort by icing – A few days of pain and discomfort is normal for those who have undergone a vasectomy. At the very least, swelling and bruising around the scrotum may be observed. If these symptoms last for more than two weeks, contact your urologist.
To hasten your recovery, ice your scrotum to reduce swelling and pain. Here are some tips on how to do it properly:
The 7 vasectomy ice pack “do’s”
1. Use a vasectomy ice pack as soon as you get home. The therapeutic properties of cold temperature work best when applied to fresh injuries, ideally within 24 to 48 hours after surgery or trauma.
2. Ice the affected area intermittently throughout the day, during waking hours. Frequent application allows ice packs to work its magic on the affected site.
3. Gently press a vasectomy ice pack on your sensitive area for 20 minutes each time, for the first two to three days. Experts recommend 15-20 minutes as the ideal time for the cold temperature to penetrate your impaired tissues. Applying adequate compression promotes blood flow to aid in faster healing.
4. Take the vasectomy ice pack off for 10-15 minutes before putting it on again in order to avoid frostbite. Waiting until your skin and tissues return to normal temperature avoids the risk of getting an ice burn.
5. Place the cloth-covered DIY ice pack or vasectomy ice pack outside your underwear. Doing this protects you from damaging your skin and tissues.
6. If you’re using a double-sided vasectomy ice pack, start with the fabric side then switch to the other portion after a few minutes.
7. Versatile and reusable, you may use vasectomy ice packs to treat almost all types of pain, swelling and discomfort from surgeries and injuries. We recommend having at least two packs to use alternately for continuous cooling.
And the 6 vasectomy ice pack “don’ts”
8. Don’t place the vasectomy ice pack directly against your bare skin.
9. Don’t use vasectomy ice packs for more than 20 minutes. Apart from the risk of frostbite, “over icing” may also cause bleeding inside your scrotum.
10. Don’t use a frozen pack of peas that’s not covered, as this could wet your incision and may lead to infection. It may also lead to an ice burn if left for a long time (i.e more than 20 minutes).
11. Don’t forcibly bend the pack from its frozen state, as this can cause leakage and damage to the seams. While the vasectomy ice pack should stay flexible from the freezer, it can sometimes turn solid if left in freezing temperatures for an extended period.
12. Don’t use a warm vasectomy pack on your groin unless advised by your urologist.
13. Don’t overheat your vasectomy ice pack in the microwave. Follow heating instructions properly to avoid ice pack damage.
Frequently Asked Questions on Vasectomy
When can I have sex after a vasectomy?
Urologists prefer that you wait at least a week to have an intimate moment with your partner. However, take another form of contraceptive, as your semen may still contain sperm. It will take about 20 ejaculations until your semen is cleared of sperm, but to be sure, you’ll have to take a sperm test about two months post-op. Your sperm count would have to be zero before your urologist clears you to enjoy unprotected sex without the guilt or worry.
Another thing: don’t be surprised to see some blood in your semen. It’s normal during the first few ejaculations following your vasectomy and should disappear in a few weeks.
Will Vasectomy affect my sexual performance?
Vasectomy has no other impact apart from a man losing his ability to produce an offspring. A “snipped” man’s sex life remains the same, if not better. Post-op, he’ll still want to be doing sexy time, because the surgery will not affect his sex drive, nor his ability to produce semen or please a woman.
Does a vasectomy increase cancer risk?
Science has not proven a direct link between vasectomy and testicular, prostate or other specific forms of cancer. The fears may be caused by a few cases of prolonged testicular pain, which is considered one of vasectomy complications.
The American Urology Association (AUA) estimates that about one to two percent of men experience chronic scrotal pain after the procedure. Surgery is usually not required in these cases as antibiotics and painkillers are usually enough to manage this health issue.
What is a vasectomy reversal?
If you’ve had a change of heart and want to have children, a vasectomy reversal is an option. This, however, entails more than just untying the tube or vas deferens.
How is a vasectomy reversal done?
There’s vasovasostomy, where your urologist sews the tube from the testes to the penis back together; and vasoepididymostomy, where the doctor attaches the vas deferens at the back of each testicle that keeps the sperm.
Otherwise, before making the final cut, ask your doctor to freeze your sperm to allow for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure in the future. This option is expensive and does not guarantee a high reproduction success rate, though. So, only have yourself snipped if you’re 100 percent sure you don’t want to have children.
Possible complications during vasectomy recovery
While vasectomies are considered to be a safe procedure, it is possible to have infections and other complications. Contact your urologist as soon as possible once you notice these signs: fever, urinary problems, bleeding or a blood clot inside the scrotum, telltale signs of infection (bleeding, pus, extreme swelling at the incision site), a testicular cyst and chronic testicular pain.
There are horror stories that would scare even a macho man from being snipped. But the truth is, the vast majority of vasectomy patients go through with their recovery process without major hitches, save for mild to moderate pain and swelling.
The recuperation period takes up to two weeks, and self-care techniques such as maintaining proper hygiene and appropriate icing methods are important to avoid infection and other complications.
Do you have questions about vasectomy ice pack use? We’re happy to help you out. Let’s keep in touch.