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How Long Does It Take to Become Sterile After Vasectomy?

Many men are interested in getting a vasectomy once they decide they want no more children. A vasectomy makes it so sperm cannot reach the penis. It is an outpatient procedure performed under sedation. A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control that is easier for men when compared to a tubal ligation for women. 

However, one advantage that a tubal ligation has is that it is effective right away. The woman is immediately sterilized, so there is no waiting  period. A vasectomy, however, does have a waiting period, as sperm can still be left in the semen for some time. This means that pregnancy is still possible for some period of time. 

So how long do you have to wait before you can have unprotected sex, without any other birth control? Read on to find out. 

The Healing Period

First of all, you need to allow your vasectomy site to heal. Many vasectomies require two cuts into the scrotum, while some don’t use a scalpel at all. In any case, there will be a wound that needs to heal. This means that you should wait about two weeks before having sex. 

While recovering, you should:

  • Use ice packs to prevent swelling 
  • Lie down as much as possible
  • Clean the wound daily 
  • Avoid any type of sex, including masturbation, as it could damage tissues and muscles

Period of Conception

But keep in mind that you will likely still be fertile past your healing period. You may still have enough sperm to get a woman pregnant during this time, so don’t assume that once the vasectomy has been performed that you will be sterile. You won’t until you are cleared by a doctor. 

 The rule of thumb is that you’ll have to ejaculate approximately 20 times before your semen has no more sperm. This means that you could still have sperm for a few months after the vasectomy. Your doctor will check your sperm within 6-12 weeks to measure how much is left. Once your sperm count falls to zero and you have no more sperm left (at about three months), you will be considered sterile. Until then, you can still create a pregnancy. Therefore, if you choose to have sex during this time, you’ll need to use another form of birth control, such as the pill, condom, or IUD. 

Once you are considered sterile, though, a vasectomy is highly effective. While no birth control is 100% effective (except for abstinence), a vasectomy comes very close and can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. 

Contact Us Today

If you are considering a vasectomy, make sure you know what to expect. You will not become sterile right away, so you could potentially get a woman pregnant immediately following the procedure.

Get answers to your questions about vasectomy by contacting our New York urologist at Lazare Urology. We’ll help you understand the process so you feel more confident. Schedule a consultation with our office today by calling (718) 568-7516 or filling out the online form. We serve the Brooklyn area.