Once you make the big decision to get a vasectomy, you still have some other big decisions to make, like just how you’re going to spend all that delicious downtime while your body recovers. Kind of makes up for the fact that you’re letting someone tinker around with sharp instruments down there.
But even though the 15-30 minute office procedure is relatively safe and simple—heck, about 500,000 men get a vasectomy in the U.S. each year—you’ll still need a few days off your feet to allow the healing process to begin.
What to expect following a vasectomy.
You may have some swelling, mild pain, or bruising the first few days. Icing helps reduce swelling and inflammation in the affected area. Take pain medication as needed—generally over-the-counter painkillers are sufficient. Also, wearing tight-fitting underwear or a jockstrap reduces discomfort. Guys who ignore the rest period often experience prolonged side effects or further complications.
Really? What can’t I do after a vasectomy?
First of all, you’re going to have to curtail your exercise regimen, which means don’t even try to go to the gym for about a week while you’re recovering post-vasectomy. While you can probably get away with some light activity after two or three days, you really need to stay away from sports, lifting, and heavy work for a week or so, according to the Mayo Clinic. Rushing back to deadlift after your vasectomy could cause pain or bleeding inside the scrotum. Nope.
Also, don’t even think about sex, which—we know—is perhaps a tall order. At any rate, you’re not going to be able to act on any of those impulses for a while after you get snipped. Your doctor is going to make an incision in your scrotum during the procedure so you’re going to want to wait about a week until it’s healed and the tenderness and swelling you might experience in your nether region subsides before resuming sex.
Cool. So, what can I do after a vasectomy?
While sex and working out are off the docket immediately following your vasectomy, being forced to put up your feet for a few days is the perfect opportunity to check some things off your bucket list:
- Teach yourself how to do something: Got a secret hankering to learn how to play ukulele, poker, or maybe juggle? A person can teach himself to do just about anything, thanks to YouTube. This guy documented himself learning how to ride a skateboard, spin a basketball on his fingertip, and pick a lock, among other completely random skills (PSA: resist the urge to learn how to ride a unicycle until you’re well into your recovery or … ouch).
- Binge-watch something: Tired of everyone talking about how great all the latest shows are while you haven’t even been able to get through Breaking Bad? Now’s the perfect time to start binging Emmy-nominated series like Barry, Ozark or Atlanta. Also, it’s a crime in 2019 that you have no idea what happens to Walter White.
- Listen to something: Have you gotten on the podcast bandwagon? There are tons of excellent places to start, like Dirty John, S-Town or Against the Rules with Michael Lewis (he’s the guy behind Moneyball, The Big Short and The Blind Side). Get cozy, pop in your ear buds, and enjoy the ride.
- Plan your next vacation: Being stuck inside can make one long to trade his couch in for a lounge chair at an all-inclusive resort or a bike gliding through Napa’s vineyards. According to AAA, some of the top summer road trip destinations are Las Vegas, the Southern Oregon Coast, and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
- Shop online: Whether you’re looking for the best gear to bike to work, upgrading your wireless headphones, or installing home security cameras, being laid up after a vasectomy is the perfect time to slip down internet rabbit holes while doing your research. You might even land on something you didn’t even know you desperately needed (see this and this).
- Get your horror movie fix: Hole up somewhere away from the kids and gobble up all the horror you can handle, like Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth, Jordan Peele’s instant classic Get Out or go old-school and re-watch Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer.
- Order SpermCheck: Even when you’re body’s feeling ready to resume having sex, it’s going to take about 20 ejaculations before you are in the clear and are less likely to risk an unwanted pregnancy. If going back to the doctor to see whether your vasectomy has clicked in and have your sperm count tested sounds about as fun as getting another vasectomy, you’ve got options. Instead, you can order yourself SpermCheck, which is an at-home kit that quickly tests your sperm count without your having to leave the house. Score!
- Rediscover books: Remember reading books, and not just Instagram captions on your phone? Now’s a great time to dive into something meaty by David McCullough—like his latest tome, The Pioneers, which chronicles the settling of the Northwest Territory—or lighten up with just about anything by David Sedaris (his latest, Calypso ,will make you laugh and maybe get a little teary).
- Say “Om:” It turns out, real men not only cry and have feelings, but they also meditate. Download an app like Headspace that’s less woo-woo than practical—with sessions focusing on everything from tips on having difficult conversations to putting down your phone, to reframing loneliness—to make your post-vasectomy life even more chill.
No matter how you choose to recuperate from your vasectomy, try to focus on how nice it is to spend a whole day with your feet up. Doctor’s orders.