Follow this advice to safely return to cycling after a vasectomy and be sensible about this sensitive cycling subject.
There’s no delicate way to say it, so here it is—Cycling After a Vasectomy. Contemplating the procedure is enough to make any warm-blooded male cringe. For the cyclist whose daily routine includes time spent on a saddle that makes every non-cyclist wince, the post-surgical recovery is uncertain and a time to dread.
It doesn’t have to be a conversation whispered in the back of a coffee shop during the weekly masters group ride. With some basic safety knowledge and helpful healthcare-related advice, you’ll soon be back to enjoying the second-best thing you love to do. Cycling after a vasectomy and men’s reproductive health, in general, is a delicate proposition, but you’ll be back in the saddle soon.
What is a vasectomy?
The vasectomy is pretty straightforward day procedure. The surgical procedure involves dividing and separating the tubes (vas deferens) that carry sperm from the testicles located in the scrotum. A vasectomy prevents the flow of sperm from entering the semen during ejaculation. The procedure is a safe and permanent (mostly) contraception option.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 500,000 men undergo elective vasectomies yearly. Approximately 5 percent of all married men of reproductive age, totaling 50 million, have had the procedure.
The ambulatory day procedure takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes following the initial consultation by a urologist or surgeon. Many men opt for a local anesthetic, while others choose intravenous (twilight) sedation. Following a short stay in post-surgical recovery, a vasectomy patient is turned over to the care of a loved one to begin recuperation.
For cyclists, that’s also a precarious period of weighing risks and benefits. Here’s what to expect. Keep in mind nothing replaces the advice of your surgeon or healthcare provider.
What to Expect After a Vasectomy?
Immediately after surgery
A vasectomy patient will first notice a small scar on their scrotum. There will be a mild, dull ache that will worsen slightly with movement and pressure. Perhaps the most painful part of the post-surgical recovery for the cyclist is avoiding any form of physical activity for 24 to 48 hours.
That includes any and all physical activity, exercise, standing, walking, and, yes, sex. You’ll have to try to stay off your feet as much as possible—cue up the old Tour de France race videos and a bidon full of coffee. A bit of ice in the area is a good idea, too.
A week after surgery,
Most men will experience less and less post-surgical pain in the three to seven days following the procedure. Surgeons will allow most cyclists to increase their physical activity gradually, and some may allow them to return to less strenuous professions.
Sitting on a saddle is still a hard “NO!” As is strenuous and rigorous exercise, contact sports, and lifting objects heavier than 20 pounds. Walking and light activity is allowed if the recovery is going well and the cyclist is pain-free after four days. Other intense exercise, like weight-lifting and running, will cause pressure to build up in the area and can lead to unwanted side effects.
Biking at this point is a bad idea. The excessive pressure on the surgical site will hinder the healing process and result in more time out of the saddle.
Two to Four weeks after surgery
After two weeks of downtime, most cyclists are going stir-crazy. Now’s not the time to do anything hasty. Most physicians will let their patients get back to non-contact sports, like golf and tennis, but cycling may remain off-limits, especially if there is pain or swelling in the area.
Athletes must wait at least three weeks before returning to contact sports like football, hockey, and basketball. Hold off on weight training until four weeks have gone by unless it’s only light weights. Intense and heavy resistance training produces tremendous intra-abdominal pressure to build up and can lead to internal bleeding in the athlete’s scrotum.
The good news is there should be no long-term effects. That is, of course, if the cyclist is sensible during the recovery and there aren’t any complications. Most complications are avoidable, and before long, cycling after a vasectomy will be an unpleasant afterthought. When can you begin riding again? I thought you’d never ask.
How long should you wait before Cycling After a Vasectomy?
It’s important to note that there are no specific American Urological Association guidelines for cyclists. Surgeons and neurologists must rely on their experience and feedback from the cycling patients to guide their patients on a safe return to cycling after a vasectomy. There is some published information to fall back on, however.
The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding physical activity and sports for a week. Several Urological Surgical groups consider cycling a special-case scenario because of the excessive pressure placed on the scrotum when sitting on a bicycle seat or saddle. Here’s what they say:
- A cyclist can resume indoor virtual cycling or ride a stationary bike after waiting two weeks.
- Surgeons recommend waiting three weeks before road cycling after a vasectomy.
- Resume Mountain biking after a vasectomy after four weeks in most cases.
Of course, your surgeon or healthcare professional has the final word regarding the safe return to the saddle. What is all the worry? The premature return to cycling after a vasectomy comes with risks that can lead to severe adverse long-term health outcomes.
Risks of Returning to Cycling After a Vasectomy too Soon
There is a range of risks, and while most are mild and short-lived, there is the potential for severe issues. Let’s begin there, in case you were considering hopping on the saddle too soon. The pressure from sitting on the saddle or riding over a bump in the road or trail causes a sudden increase in internal blood pressure.
The trauma disrupts the blood vessel healing process leading to bleeding and a rapid increase in scrotum size. The hematoma (a solid swelling of clotted blood) will make the scrotum grow, sometimes to the size of a softball, and can get infected or require further surgery. It’s an avoidable emergency; if not, it signals the end of a cyclist’s career.
More common risks and side effects are not as ominous and include pain and mild bruising. It’s not uncommon to experience dull and achy abdominal pain for up to eight weeks. Contact your surgeon if you have sharp and stabbing pain lasting more than a day or two.
Be keenly aware of the signs of infection, like redness and pus oozing from the surgical site and a low-grade infection. Keep the area clean and covered up if there is a scab. Ask your doctor before riding if the wound is open or weeping fluid.
Tips to Follow When Cycling After a Vasectomy
Now that you know what can go wrong if you don’t do the right thing, what is a cyclist after a vasectomy to do? Once your surgeon gives you the “good to go,” go easy at first. Ease into a few short rides on the indoor trainer before increasing your time in the saddle.
If you can do that without pain, roll your bike outside, ride on flat surfaces, and limit the time for the first few rides. Work your way up to some hills and climb in and out of the saddle. Add mountain biking rides after four weeks have gone by, and you’ve done everything else.
Investing in a quality pair of cycling shorts with padded chamois is a wise purchase. Decrease friction at the surgical site with a dab of chamois cream, but only if the wound is fully closed. There are several saddles on the market with this application in mind. A noseless saddle is a fine option, as are other more sophisticated designs like the Manta saddle.
Sharp pain experienced at any time during a ride is your cue to cut it short. Too much too soon is a recipe for cycling disaster in the form of time on the sideline, or worse, forever.
Conclusion—Cycling After a Vasectomy
Every man is different, and that goes double for every cyclist after a vasectomy. One thing that’s the same for every cyclist is if you push it and try to beat the recovery clock, you’ll end up with aches, swelling, discomfort, or worse. You run the risk of stopping and starting your recovery and extending your non-cycling time by weeks, months, or more. No cyclist has time for that! Especially when cycling after a vasectomy!
Have you returned to cycling after a vasectomy? What’s your experience, and what helpful hints can you share? Comment below! Your fellow cyclists want to know.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!