How Vasectomies Work

What to Expect During Your Vasectomy

Some current vasectomy techniques require the traditional incision, while others, known as "no-scalpel" procedures, do not.
Some current vasectomy techniques require the traditional incision, while others, known as "no-scalpel" procedures, do not.

The big moment has arrived. Many men may find themselves nervous on the big day. While women are more often accustomed to having their genitals examined at their annual OB/GYN visit, men tend to have their private parts touched and scrutinized by a doctor less often.

On the day of your surgery, you will need to bathe and shave your testicles. If you do not shave them, an assistant will probably do it for you. You will also need to bring a scrotal supporter, like tight, brief-style underwear or a jockstrap, to wear home. The room will be warm to help you relax, and soft music might be playing. In a quick procedure that takes only 15-30 minutes, the vasectomy will be performed. You will probably be awake during the vasectomy, relaxing with the aid of a mild sedative, which can be given orally or through an IV [source: Davis]. Rarely, general anesthesia is used to put you to sleep [source: Zieve et al.].

Before the surgery, your scrotum will be numbed with local anesthetic [source: Davis]. During the procedure, you may feel tugging on the scrotum, which will often feel uncomfortable but should not be painful. In order to access the vas deferens, a doctor will cut or puncture one or two holes into each side of the scrotum with a scalpel. Each of the two vas deferens tubes will be severed [source: National Library of Medicine]. At this point, the tubes will either be clamped or tied securely (closed-ended vasectomy), or simply cut and left open (open-ended vasectomy) [source: Christiansen]. Many urologists then perform a thermal cauterization of the vas, using heat to sear the vas deferens tube shut. After the surgery, your doctor may or may not choose to stitch the incision site back up, depending on the size of the incision and any resultant bleeding [source: CDC].

Your doctor may choose to use another vasectomy technique that is done with no incision and no scalpel. Known as the Li technique, this procedure started in China in the early 1970s and remains very popular today. The no-scalpel vasectomy promises less discomfort, quicker healing and reduced surgical time [source: Clenney]. During this process, the urologist feels for the vas deferens in the scrotum, and clamps it securely. He or she punctures the scrotal skin slightly with sharp forceps, and then stretches the skin to lift the vas deferens out through a tiny hole. The vas is cut, then cauterized or tied, and placed back into the scrotum [source: American Urological Association Foundation]. With this technique, stitches are not needed, as bleeding is minimal [source: CDC].