How to best help husband recover post-vasectomy?
August 12, 2013 1:40 PM   Subscribe

My husband is taking one for the to speak. He's going in for a vasectomy on Wednesday, and has already planned to take the next day off from (office) work. Aside from frozen peas and ice cream, what can I do to make it easier on him?

I saw an old thread from 2004 detailing some of the procedure and recovery advice, but I'd like to solicit suggestions focusing on what a concerned spouse can do to make things easier, and how we should expect the recovery to go. No "should we?" questions here. We're very happy with the decision to not have kids in the future. I'd just like advice or tips on making it as easy on him as possible!

Example: I saw in that previous thread that someone recommended making sure to wear sweatpants to the surgery. Would not have thought of that ahead of time!

Is there anything we should get on hand ahead of time? Something he should make sure to do the day before? Not do? Is there anything I can do/prepare to be an especially awesome and supportive spouse?

Extra credit question: My husband uses a wheelchair daily, so I suspect the pain from standing/walking will be less but there might be other tasks that are more difficult. Anyone with experience there?
posted by ninjakins to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
For me, getting my wisdom teeth out was far more painful. I had it done on a Friday and was back to work on Monday, and while I did have some aching and swelling after being on my feet all day on Monday, it was really no big deal. He might want to take Friday off as well, if it is possible, just to avoid that discomfort.

My doctor recommended switching from boxers to briefs for a couple of weeks, and I'd suggest doing that, but get a size smaller than usual, or snug-fitting ones, as the generic not-so-tighty-whities I picked up gave me hardly any more support than my boxers did.

As far as the wheelchair goes, I'm not sure about that. I guess it depends on the kind of seat? I'm not sure I would want to be tucked into a bucket-style seat right after the procedure, but sitting/laying on the couch was how I recovered, primarily.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:49 PM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: 60" LCD HDTV. Should take the edge off nicely.
posted by Gungho at 1:56 PM on August 12, 2013 [22 favorites]

My wife greatly aided my post-vasectomy recovery by doing three things:

1. Keeping our (at the time) very young children away from me for a day or two. No surprise head-butts to the groin for Daddy = smooth recovery.
2. Taking the lead on chores that we usually share(d) on a more or less equal basis, especially cooking and diaper changing.
3. Most importantly, encouraging me to rest and relax. I have a tendency to struggle with taking it easy after operations, and she was very good about (politely) nagging me to relax and ensure that my recovery proceeded apace.

If it is any consolation, I've been operated on many times and I thought that the vasectomy recovery was relatively straightforward in comparison to most surgical recoveries - certainly less painful than the wisdom tooth removal I had 2 weeks after the vasectomy.

The fact that you are asking this question shows great forethought and kindness! Best of luck to you and your husband.
posted by cheapskatebay at 2:01 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

If he’s going to be awake be ready for the manhandling, cutting and smell of burning flesh. It’s not that bad, but weird if you’re not ready for it. I agree wisdom teeth is worse. But similarly, I was not quite ready for them hitting me in the mouth with a hammer and chisel.
posted by bongo_x at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2013

Don't let him go mountain biking. Like my brother did too soon after an unexpectedly complicated vasectomy.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:17 PM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: Frozen peas. The fancy ice packs with beads in them that are like frozen peas are okay, but really expensive for the ones that are big enough to sit on and not need to adjust around to hit the right spot. Buy the most on-sale peas, and buy at least half a dozen bags. Wrap a bag of peas in a layer of paper towel or tea towel, secure inside a gallon ziploc (you do not want to deal with a pea breach in your bed or on your couch), and then make sure there is a good layer of fabric between skin and baggie.

Prepare whatever he'd enjoy binge-watching. If he's going to do that on a laptop, get a lap desk to put TO THE SIDE not in the lap, but lap desks are good for not tipping over in the bed when you're shifting around. And he needs to not lift the laptop, which is why a TV is preferable. (He should not lift the TV either.)

If you have pets large enough to stomp, shake the bed jumping up, poke, or paw, get treats or toys or a baby gate or whatever keeps them out. I slept in a different room for a couple of nights so that neither I nor the animals were in the way.

Whatever he's given or told for pain and inflammation management, do that. This is not a time to tough it out. This is not a place to be messing around with swelling. Also, obey the lifting/pushing limits, because you do not want unnecessary scarring or nerve damage.

I just left my husband alone unless he wanted something - which I fetched for him - and tolerated a heightened level of grumpiness for a few days. He's kind of a giant baby about pain (in the sense that he is either not in pain or in all the pain, be it a hangnail or his leg's fallen off), and I would call it two days of frowniness. He slept longer than he expected to the first night and so went longer than he should have without Advil (actually, I think the doctor had him doing combo Tylenol/Advil - do whatever you're told/given) and was really uncomfortable when he woke up, so the following night I set 4-hour alarms for him.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pick him up at the door of the doctor's office and don't listen to him when he says he can walk to the car in the parking lot.

I also recall they wanted dh to wear a jock strap afterwards. Might be good to pick that up ahead of time.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:29 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lyn Never: Whatever he's given or told for pain and inflammation management, do that. This is not a time to tough it out. This is not a place to be messing around with swelling. Also, obey the lifting/pushing limits, because you do not want unnecessary scarring or nerve damage.

Just wanted to echo this. If ever there was a time to stay ahead of the pain, this is it. If the doc says every four hours, take 'em every four hours. No "waiting until it gets bad" or whatever.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:29 PM on August 12, 2013

Boxer-brief style underwear, frozen things, and down time. I found my recovery took about 3 days til I felt about 90%, and then about another 10-14 before I would forget I'd had the procedure at all. Generally not a big deal at all.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:40 PM on August 12, 2013

don't listen to him when he says he can walk to the car in the parking lot.

Seriously! Basically there is some serious anesthetic that will, at some point, wear off and you want to be ready for it with ready pain meds and already in some sort of "I don't need to move anywhere at all" situation. Recovery is usually straightforward and for my guy the pain drop off was very quick after about two days, other than that, keep ahead of the pain and do whatever is necessary (pets, kids) to keep his junk unruffled. Bruising can be very colorful. This is normal.

I know people have said this in other threads but it bears repeating: do not presume you are safe for unprotected sex until you have gotten the all clear from the doc after being tested again. This may take weeks. Be ready for that, don't jump the gun. Keep a few condoms around, don't toss them all out in some sort of ceremony.
posted by jessamyn at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also recall they wanted dh to wear a jock strap afterwards. Might be good to pick that up ahead of time.

And try it on ahead of time. When you're ready to put your pants back on is the wrong time to find out you have no idea how to select or don a jock strap.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:17 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

One more vote for, take it easy for longer than he thinks he needs to. I had minor surgery two weeks ago (discussed here), and I had never had surgery before so I had no idea what painkillers were like. The morning after the surgery I'm feeling GREAT, so I assumed I've become Wolverine and I waaaayyy overexerted myself. Because tons of people told me "hey it's just a couple of days and you'll be back on your feet!" Now here it is two weeks later and I'm still in some pain and haven't healed all the way. Make sure he rests and stays still for at least the minimum, and then some.
posted by jbickers at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2013

I'm sure they'll tell you about the need for something more supportive than boxers, but Nthing that and the prep for binge watching. Grab the first five discs of Deadwood or something. Maybe have a few things on hand in case of nausea? Ginger ale and other gingery things. Baked sweet potato.

A side note: Mr Origami's procedure took about 20 minutes in and out with a local anesthetic. I went in to keep him company, and because I thought it might be kinda fascinating to watch the little snip of that piece of spaghetti. It was! And I'm usually not this sort of person, but it suddenly felt really hot and stuffy in that room and when I said as much the doc directed me to sit and have some water. There was no blood, no drama, just that little bit of smoking noodle, but I was on the verge of passing out. We all found it rather amusing. Just an anecdote if you're planning to have your head down there while the doc works!

Good on you guys. Beats major surgery and wholesale removal of girl parts. Helluva difference in cost and recovery that's for sure.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 3:28 PM on August 12, 2013

Mrs. Raptor took excessively good care of me when I had mine done. In addition to the many things suggested above, she delivered a cold beer back to me a few times and I can say it was a godsend.
posted by Piano Raptor at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2013

One thing I'd say to check in on is which type of vasectomy they're doing. Some of the newer ones are less invasive. Mine was similar to how AnOrigamiLife described, where I was in and out in under half an hour, with only local. Didn't end up needing the Vicodin, I think I might've taken an ibuprofen. (And I'm by no means the "Rah! Tough it out!" sort)

On the other hand, some of the variation in responses could be age-related as well. So to be on the safe side, prepare with boxer-briefs, an ice pack, etc. But don't be surprised if he's feeling just fine afterwards.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2013

My husband was happier without the ice pack (he said it hurt more with the ice than without), but we were both glad to have it on hand in case it was needed. He was sore for about 24 hours - he says it felt like a bad case of blue balls - but he was doing well after about 2 days. For those two days he rested on the couch. I'd asked him what he wanted as his vasectomy present, which was a copy of Final Fantasy 1, 2, 4, and 5 (video games). So he spent two days on the couch playing video games.

He only took one Vicodin and was on ibuprofen for a few days afterwards. His was a puncture (two, actually, due to his anatomy, according to the doc), and then the doc snipped the tubes and tied them. No smell of burning or anything. Just a local, in and done in 20 minutes.

Definitely keep an eye on the lifting and weight moving restrictions.
posted by RogueTech at 7:23 PM on August 12, 2013

I know people have said this in other threads but it bears repeating: do not presume you are safe for unprotected sex until you have gotten the all clear from the doc after being tested again. This may take weeks.

In rare cases, it can take months. The ex took so long to get the all clear, they were beginning to think they needed to go back in and look for an extra tube or something. For my extremely introverted ex, doing it in a cup at a doctor's office again and again ...and again... as he repeatedly failed to get the all clear was the absolute worst part of the whole thing.

We were in a two story house at the time. Bedrooms were upstairs. We arranged for him to sleep downstairs on the couch for several nights. We put his toothbrush in the downstairs bathroom. I don't remember big drama on the pain front, which might not mean much. He was very stoic and took physical pain well.
posted by Michele in California at 7:49 PM on August 12, 2013

I'll just leave this here.

(posted in a past AskMe)
posted by qwip at 8:38 PM on August 12, 2013

Get the right kind of jock strap. There's a particular variety that's recommended for post-surgery ("suspensor" I think?). You definitely do not want an athletic one with a hard cup.

This website has a bunch of pictures of what a normal recovery looks like in terms of bruising/swelling/etc.--I found it reassuring.
posted by equalpants at 8:40 PM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

My experience is a bit different than the majority of what's out there about vasectomies and recovery, so take it for what it's worth. But I thought I should share my perspective.

Be prepared for his recovery to be different than the majority of what you read on the Internet. I'm not saying anyone's advice is wrong, but the thing is everyone is different and what works for a lot of people might not work for your husband. In other words, be prepared to have other options or to improvise if the conventional wisdom is not holding true for his situation.

I had a vasectomy that didn't go as expected, and three months later I still haven't fully recovered.

Early on I found supportive underwear was great, but pretty quickly it caused more pain then loose underwear did. My underwear choice was a moment-to-moment thing, and it wasn't as clear-cut as I had believed it would be. Cold packs were nearly impossible to put where they'd do any good, so you might want to have a few different configurations ready to go.

Transitioning from sitting to standing and vice versa was difficult, so make sure there are places to sit that have armrests or other things to help.

Nthing the advice to stay on the pain reliever schedule. He should to maintain the pain reliever in the bloodstream, he should not wait until he feels like he needs it. And get the refill before he's actually out of pills.

My gauze pads stuck to my wounds to the point where they reopened the wounds when I tried to take them off to replace them. I subsequently used hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the dried/congealed blood when replacing the gauze. I know that hydrogen peroxide can force germs into a wound because of the foaming action when it interacts with blood, but it was the best I could do.

Sleeping in any position other than flat on my back was painful and impossible. Sadly, I snore when I sleep on my back. So maybe get some earplugs for yourself just in case.

Having pain pills and water by the bed was a very good idea, so I didn't have to get up to take pain meds at night.

I got weird swelling where the pointy ends of the sutures poked into my skin. It took a while to figure out why I was getting the swelling, but once I did I was able to trim the ends of the sutures which minimized that problem.

The incisions closed up pretty quickly but there was some scarring that stayed painful (still is a little bit) and the dissolving sutures never really dissolved. That sucked.

I can't wear any of the pants I owned before the procedure, they cause just enough pressure that at the end of the day I'm in agony. So he should definitely make sure to have some trousers he can wear when he goes back to work or whatever that have enough room. I can't wear jeans anymore, it's dress pants or board shorts for me now.

After a vasectomy the patient is supposed to ejaculate every day or every other day as soon as he can manage in order to clear the residual sperm out, but that was impossible for me for a week, and when it was no longer too painful to even touch myself it just felt like a chore and was very difficult. I don't have any advice to offer for how to make that better.

Finally, and I'm sorry to possibly be a downer here, but the whole mess killed my sex drive. I never had any problems relating to how I felt about my masculinity, but because the procedure went poorly and was extremely painful, and because my recovery didn't track with ANYTHING I had read, I felt broken and ugly. What was supposed to make our sex life totally spontaneous and carefree pretty much killed it for me and it's only starting to come back. So I guess I'm advocating patience and the willingness to adjust your expectations if it's not the easy in-and-out, hardly notice it happened kind of thing it's supposed to be.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:17 PM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: The second day, I felt like a million bucks and did too much physical activity. The third day, I was in a bit of pain. Remind him to take it easy even if he feels great.
posted by DWRoelands at 4:04 AM on August 13, 2013

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