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Letters to Cyclingnews Vasectomy and cycling
An innocent (and we think, very brave) query from USA reader Duncan Granger in our Letters page of January 31, 2002, about the effects of vasectomy on cycling - and vice versa - has generated an explosion of replies from around the world. Cyclingnews.com staff have marveled, during the past week, at the sheer number and quality of Letters that have flowed in, offering advice, tips and personal experiences.
Vasectomy has been, without a doubt, one of our most popular Letters subjects, ever.
So, to give this somewhat sticky subject its due credit - and offer some answers to Duncan's original questions - we have decided to offer a special Letters page, dedicated to the sport of cycling.
Oooh that saddle!
My experience was that physical activity within a couple weeks was no sweat, but ooooh that saddle! It was a month before I could handle riding without feeling like every bump in the road was directly kicking me right in the 'nads.
Long term effects? None for me after that first month, other than some spontaneous bliss in the sack.
Enjoyin' wedded life
Take two weeks
I remember about one day of discomfort and about two days of easy living. I was back on the bike (not racing) on the fourth day. Sex waited about 10 days, if I remember correctly.
I am not a doctor, so take that into account. I didn't rush my body, but then again I was not timid. I would not suggest racing for the first week after, since the stress of racing will only impede the healing process.
Don't ride with your racing buddies, or start intervals, or time trailing right after. The few days away from the bike, as miserable as it will be, will not undo your form. Heck, take the two weeks and come back hungry for a ride.
It's a lottery
It's really a bit of a lottery between the skill of the surgeon, the recovery and stoicism of the patient and luck with wound infections, bruising and the like.
In my case, I did a hard 80km ride on the Thursday morning, had a scalpel-less procedure (a misnomer, really. It was the size of the needle for the local that caused the most discomfort both during and after the operation), had one day off the bike before a group ride with sprints on the Saturday, and a 60k (40 mile) road race on the Sunday in which I placed. Thereafter I kept riding as usual. I think my surgeon suggested three to five days' rest.
I had hardly used any anti-inflammatories until the Sunday night, after which I used 46 of the supply of 50 over the next five days. Cycling wasn't a concern, as the knicks supported the scrotum and kept the sore areas out of the way.
Walking after sitting was agony, as the warmed, bruised and inflamed scrotum hung lower to be banged by the inside of my thighs with every stride. And the codeine in the mixture messed up my night driving.
I had pretty severe bruising on one side, which stayed enlarged and sore on and off over the next two to three months, but rarely caused even the slightest discomfort whilst supported by knicks on the bike.
Maybe I was lucky. Perhaps don't contemplate it the week before the National titles! Avoid a general anaesthetic if you are brave enough - besides withholding food for 12 hours (and what cyclist can do that), the effects of the anaesthetic agents can persist in subtle ways for up to 6 months, hindering your performance.
Good luck to you.
Dr. Robert Suter
Had mine done two years ago after our second child. I was off the bike for about 10 days. The pain issue only lasted about four days but worrying about tearing the stitches kept me off the bike a while longer.
After 10 days I started back slow and if I remember right, after about a week of riding it was pretty much a non-issue. I still didn't really go hard until I was sure I wasn't going to tear the stitches.
I have had no problems since and ride with no discomfort at all.
Wait three days
Here is the scoop from my viewpoint. Whenever you get it done, wait three solid days without doing anything. You will feel okay, but if you try to do anything you will pay for it! Just sit on the couch, drink some brews and ICE,ICE,ICE. Get two packs of frozen peas and just keep rotating them. One on your stuff, one in the freezer.
You can ride the trainer in about five or six days, but be wary of the road for a couple of weeks. It is the pavement cracks or unseen bumps that will cause you pain. Never had a case of epididymitis, before or after. GO FOR IT!
Hope my "vaz" experience can be of guidance.
I had a vaz at about 40 years of age after three children. I have always been an avid "hard recreational" cyclist and can compete at local Cat three races in the Toronto, Canada area when a local race is convenient. I typically work out six days a week, with mostly cycling, some indoor rowing for variety (currently at 6:54.8 for 2,000 m), and now run infrequently, even though I have completed three marathons in past years, with a 3:05 being the best.
My body seems fairly durable as I rarely get hurt and recover fairly quickly. My body seems to be able to take a reasonable amount of abuse but I was not very lean at 5'-11" and 183 lbs (at vaz time). I don't like to take too much time off from working out, so I tried to get on the bike as soon as I could after the vaz.
First of all, I had a great doctor and no complications from the operation whatsoever. The whole procedure took less than half an hour. After I got home, I applied a bag of frozen peas off and on for three or four hours and then sporadically through the rest of the evening and the next few days.
I attempted my first bike ride either the next day or the day after. I felt very little discomfort walking at this point but did not attempt to run. After hitting the first few patches of bumpy road on the ride, I headed home knowing that I shouldn't be out there on the bike. The second or third day after the operation, I rode at about 50% effort and accomplished a 10 mile ride with very little discomfort. I increased my efforts daily, but felt out each ride until I no longer thought about it. As I recall, it was less than a month before I was "normal" and I have had no discomfort since. I believe the key is to stay away from "jarring" movements like running, and you can exercise soon after the operation, depending on a number of factors.
I have also heard some horror stories about vaz's so don't assume all recoveries are as smooth as mine. I'm sure every situation is unique and I was probably lucky to have been able to get back on the bike so quickly. The key is not to plan anything after the operation and pace your recovery gradually.
Seven days later . . .
Ah - the unkindest cut of all!
It depends how "gentle" the surgeon is and consequently how much discomfort you are in. I was cycling again after seven days, but my op was carried out in a private hospital (rather than our NHS), so probably got a better standard of service!
Benefits outweigh negatives
I had a vasectomy just after my third child was born. He is now a Museeuw lookalike (legs) and has just turned 22 years old.
Do it and stay off the bike and weights and running for as long as your doctor orders you to do.
The benefit of having a wife who does not worry about becoming pregnant far outweighs the two or three weeks off the bike.
You need the rest anyway. This advice from an older(53 years) and still very active cyclist.
How about 20 kids instead?
DON'T DO IT!
I had a vasectomy over a year ago and since then I have had three periods of forced rest as cycling seems to cause my tubes (thingygingystingyogus) to become inflamed. Before I had the snip, I had no problems. I am now waiting to have the problem resolved, which will mean further surgery and discomfort.
With hindsight, I would consider the following options: a. 20+ children b. The life of a single man c. The life of a gay man
Does this help with your question, please let me know how it goes.
You will know
Like you, I had the chop after two children, while still cycling 10 miles each way to work daily. I guess I took a few days out of the saddle, but you will know when you are ready to roll again, rather than the experts. Just don't commit to a big one until you are sure you feel normal again after some local rides. Long term, I went on to successfully ride Paris-Brest-Paris with no concerns in that region.
Here goes . . .
Congratulations on your child! We had our third in November, and my wife and I have made the same decision.
I am going to be going under the knife next week, Feb 6 to be exact. As for the scalpel-less procedure you mentioned, they still have to cut you. I was told that it entails inserting a scissor type instrument and cutting from a small point outwards. So, yes, there is no scalpel, but you still get cut. The doctor I am using recommended the scalpel as he feels the cut is cleaner and more easily controlled. I voted on the side of more control.
As for the strenuous exercise, he says that 10-14 days, I should be pretty good to go. I would be very cautious about doing anything before that. I will let you know how the recovery goes, if you like.
Say a prayer.
Don't ride - it's too risky
Absolutely stay off the bike.
Due to the location, not just groin, but with regard to internal parts and how things move around, pressure, contraction etc, you risk far too much by messing around at all on the bike. Plain and simple, don't do it. If anyone has success in getting right back on, they were very lucky.
If you can time it, doing it in the off season and then working through a cross training phase, then base and the up into LT work gives you not only the right race foundation, but is a great way to have the rest followed by the build up you need to get back going. Tremendous core stress is involved in cycling and core in this case involves movement and strength in the muscles involved in much more than just cycling.
Do it right.
About four years ago I had a vasectomy (incision) during the springtime (I forget exactly when) and was also in the midst of my first racing season.
Although I was a little concerned about the recovery period and time off the bike, my convalescence was remarkably brief. In short, I recall being able to jog lightly within seven to 10 days of the operation and was back on my bike within three weeks.
My advice: remain inactive for two to three days and continue icing until the swelling has completely subsided before attempting any moderately strenuous activity (eg hiking, long walks). Afterwards, use your best judgment on what feels right (down there) and you'll be back on your feet in no time. But, don't sweat the vasectomy - it's a truly simple procedure.
Remember, it's permanent
I also decided to go the way of the knife after my second child. One boy, one girl, they don't make any other kind. Why not stop here?
I was not a cyclist at the time. However I was a competitive runner and did my first run one week after my surgery, with just minor discomfort. I have since become a competitive cyclist and have never had any problems with that area.
Just remember once this surgery is done it is considered permanent, the reversal surgery has a much lower success rate and from what I hear is much more painful.
Waiting just good sense
I have a friend who felt so good after the procedure that he over-did it, just general physical activity and paid for it big-time in pain and suffering.
Waiting three to four weeks is just good sense. Not waiting can only lead to complications like swelling.
Painless and only four days off
I believe we are part of a small group - those who go under the knife in order to shoot blanks! I had a vasectomy at the end of 2000 about three weeks before the time changed - which is about when the season ends here in North Carolina. Aside from the doctor talking to me the whole time I was in stirrups, having to shave my scrotum (which is a bit higher than I normally go) and the smell of the soldering iron cauterizing various areas of my privates, it was quite painless. I was out in 20 minutes and went to work the next day. The discomfort that I had for a couple days after felt much like blue balls.
Now to the important stuff. I ride Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Except for Sunday and races all are competitive group rides. I had the procedure done on a Thursday and missed that ride. I did not feel that I could ride on that Saturday or Sunday. I did ride the trainer with slight discomfort on Tuesday and did the normal Thursday ride a week later. The doctor told me that I could ride on Tuesday, four days after the procedure and he was about right.
I hope that helps,
Not to worry! I had a vasectomy three years ago, and the recovery period is quite quick. You'll probably spend two days laying about on the couch (time for those TdF videos), then be up and around for normal activities (most people do the procedure Friday evening and can return to work Monday morning.
In my case, I was off the bike for about 10 days and resumed riding at that point with no problems.
You would probably have to wait longer to run (bouncing is bad). I experienced some residual, minor soreness when putting the equipment to use for a few months afterward (not enough to stop me, though :-}), but it was no big deal.
I cant respond to a vasectomy per say, but less than a month ago I had a testicular biopsy which involves some of the same incisions as a vasectomy.
My doctor said I could be back on the bike by the end of the week (ie surgery on Tuesday, bike on Saturday). I do have to admit that I gave it a full week and a half before I jumped back on the trainer.
When I got back on the bike ,any discomfort I felt was more from not being on the bike as opposed to the surgery.
Been there, done that and got the T-shirt!
I had a vasectomy late last year. I had spent the previous year procrastinating over getting it done.
Once I had it done, yeah it hurt for a couple of days. I was off the bike for two weeks to be safe and after that it was good as gold. One word of advice though , don't believe those evil wives when they promise more action in the bedroom if you get it done.
You go get it done and then they pull out of the deal! I would suggest a formal contract is drawn up between you and your partner stipulating the weekly "nooky" allowance!
Definitely worth it
I am a member of the "breeders" who also decided to stop after two children. I had already stopped racing but was still a very competitive rider who rode weekly with other "retired" cyclists.
I had the no-scalpel vasectomy, which consisted of a small incision at the base of the penis. A local block was applied and I was instructed to wear an athletic supporter, which held in a hockey puck sized kotex pad. I iced the genitals and never experienced any swelling or discomfort.
I did not need to take any pain killers and viewed the overall experience as positive. I had the surgery on Wednesday and was able to walk right afterwards and felt really comfortable by Saturday.
I would lay off the weights and stay out of the gym for at least two weeks in order not to pop the stitches.
That was two years ago and I have returned to competitive cycling with no ill effects. The procedure was definitely worth it. It's like having unprotected high school sex again.
Hope this helps.
You'll recover soon enough
I had a vasectomy in my mid 40's during a time when cycling was an infrequent occurrence for me.
At that time it took me eight weeks to recover to the point where I was able to sit in a chair without having to grimace. At about the same time I decided it would be great fun to try to ride.
I got onto the old trusty steed, rode down the driveway, sat on the old Unicanitor saddle and promptly let out a yelp and gave a hop off the saddle, turned around and finished my five second ride. I believe it took about another two months to get to the point where I would try to get back on and at that time I had no problem.
I am now five years post-op, have revisited my passion for cycling and am now putting on 5000 plus miles/year with no side effects as a result of the procedure. Just for grins, I check the staples and all's well.
Bottom line, get the procedure, and get it over with. You'll recover soon enough, (I took a very long time) and your wife, family, and savings account will appreciate it. By the way, you'll go from Cat 4 to Cat 3 soon enough as well if you want it badly enough. Good luck!
Listen to the Doc
I had my vasectomy on June 25, 2001. I was told no overdoing it for three weeks. Did I listen? Did I heal? The result was, an infection in the Nadgers. A weeks' course of antibiotics soon cleared it up but knocked me back a further two weeks. My advice, listen to the Doc - they are usually right.
Back on the bike in a week
I had a vasectomy two years ago, after our third child. I had the surgery one a Friday afternoon. Went home put my legs up with ice between my legs Friday night and Saturday. By the next Tuesday I was in the gym doing upper body workout and rowing. I got back on the road bike for easy riding by the following Friday. I've had none of the adverse side effects that you are warned of.
Hope that helps,
Bike too soon equals pure pain
Hello, I'm a cat 4 road racer who had a vasectomy over four years ago (during the middle of cycling season ).
The doctors told me stay off the bike for two weeks. I tried to get back on in one and a half weeks - pure pain.
After two weeks, I made another go at it, same result. Finally, I went to the store bought a big car wash sponge. Every time I went riding or to a race for the next couple of weeks, I taped the sponge up in my crotch for protection, it worked!
That's all I can tell you.
Don't wait too long
OK, here is my vasectomy story. I never thought I would be sharing it with the world, but I thought that it may be important to share with you.
First of all, after our third child, I had decided to have the procedure done, but I put it off, thinking it would affect my training too much. Well that was a mistake! My wife soon informed me she was pregnant again! (Yes I know how that happens, but she has this power over me...) I certainly was never prepared for four children, my wife begged for months for number three :} (although she is certainly loved, and much wanted now!). I had to get it done soon this time so I would not have number five. After researching all available procedures, I decided on the Scalpel-less procedure, with a doctor who had literally done thousands of scalpel-less procedures.
I timed this to coincide with a recovery week, for minimal disruption to my training schedule. My doctor knew I was training for cycling and thought maybe I would a week, but if I was feeling well I could get on the bike sooner.
He explained to me for this to have a chance to work I had to ELIMINATE any physical activity for at least two full days.
He suggested I get the procedure done on a Friday morning and that I do absolutely nothing but sit, or lie down and continually ice the area and take ibuprofin to aid in reducing swelling. The procedure went very well.
I trained Friday morning before going in, and for 2 1/2 days I did nothing, no lifting and not much walking, lots of ice and anti-inflammatories and of course much Internet surfing, Cyclingnews.com and Tour de France videos (Go Lance!).
By Monday, I was feeling pretty good and decided to test myself with a short ride (30 minutes easy on the trainer). Everything went pretty well, slight soreness and more ice and ibuprofin to treat any inflammation did the trick. The next day one hour riding outside, still ok. The day after, two hours and the next day, three hours. No real problems for me, thank goodness.
All of the training I really ended up missing was two days on the bike! The cost of waiting prior to that was child number four. I did the procedure last March during the first of the month. I don't know if my results are typical, but in my opinion, going in with a good attitude, complete abstinence from activity for over two days and following my doctors orders to the fullest made my recovery a quick one.
So I guess the moral of the story was waiting to do the procedure got me to double the amount of children I thought I would ever have, and the procedure was really no big deal, well at least for me!
Eight days off, no problems
I have three children and the time came for a vasectomy. I had the surgery on a Friday had to lay on the couch with legs up on pillows over the weekend, went back to work on Monday and rode by the following weekend. So I had about eight days off, with no complications or discomfort. Hope this helps and all goes well.
A little sore but still fast
One of my cycling friends had a vasectomy and as I remember from his telling when we met out on the road one day, I don't think that he was away from cycling more than two weeks. But I can be wrong.
That day he was a little (I'm not sure of the word but) sore. Although he still was the fastest of us.
Rollin' after 48 hours
Don't sweat it mate...I had all of your concerns before recently having a vasectomy.
The thought of weeks off the bike scared me almost as much as more kids.
I rolled around on my bike 48hrs after the procedure with little discomfort. Four full days later, I was back into full training with only a bit of a weird feeling around the wedding tackle.
I raced in our Australian series (xc MTB) one week after. I had no infection, and took no real drastic measures to avoid this. Basically it was all good...go for it!
Plan the recovery in
We have three children and decided that was enough, so I drew the short straw on who got the snip (not really but it makes for a good joke).
At the time I was a Cat 3 road and vet expert mountain biker.
I had the scalpel-less procedure on a Friday and was able to do a light ride on the Monday. To reduce the interruption to training, I scheduled the "procedure" prior to my recovery week in February. That way if I didn't feel up to a workout it wasn't any loss.
I felt discomfort for a couple of weeks but that was all the time not just when riding. To be cautious, I didn't do any really strenuous work, VO2 max intervals or heavy lifting, for several weeks but at this time of year it's not as important. You can always plan the recovery in!
As for the epidydimis inflammation, I have had it before and after and not just when I have been riding. It hasn't affected whether I ride or not.
Just remember, planning, and more planning.
Hope this helps! PS: How about the tour of Qatar!!!
Do it now!
Duncan - do it NOW - take a few weeks off, then just hit the trainer easy for awhile. Hey, you're a cat 4, with a wife and kids - you looking for more kids?
Had mine done late December four years ago, here's a tip: wear two pairs of underwear and a jock strap for the whole two weeks and you'll be way ahead of the game. I didn't and guess what? Gotta keep that thing wrapped up tight!
Time it well - then take a break
Based on my experience, it would take you a few weeks to feel comfortable on the bike, but I was back pedaling in about a week (albeit, no long riding at first).
You'll probably feel like a baby elephant at first, because of some bruising, but all things considered, it was no drama for me.
Don't know about the other things you've mentioned. However, much of it probably comes down to giving your body time to recover (like you would after some other injury or procedure).
Finally, if it really matters that you don't miss any more training than necessary, how about you schedule a punishing long ride for the morning of the operation (or day before), so you'll feel better about taking some recovery time anyway?! I had myself done straight after the Forster Ironman, so was ready for a rest anyway.
Don't sweat it
I had a vasectomy at age 30. Was running 100 miles per week at time. Was out for three days back to full routine in five days and no problems. Never had any follow-up problems, a lot of rumors, urban legends re: the results but no problems. Only one problem was first wife who whined until I had the procedure and then wanted me to have a reversal two years later.
I began riding at age 48 with no articular cartilage and no cruciate ligaments in my left knee, (rugby injury in 1987).
The existing knee injury finally caught up to me in the late 1980's after a long stint in competitive marathon running. The cycling began some 20 years after the vasectomy and there has never been a problem in spite of 15 hours a week in the saddle all year long and average year mileage in excess o 10,000 pa.
Don't sweat it.
It's all good
Mate, I know how your feeling, but don't worry - it's all good.
I was done 10/12/01, a Monday. Tried riding Saturday (and) nuts just a little Uncomfortable, so I went home after 10 minutes.
I tried again Monday arvo, an easy one-hour ride, felt great. I still only rode flat routes for that week but no pain.
The killer is, you have to shave completely and the regrowth prickles are the worst.
Have no fear, you don't lose any urges at all.
You still shoot exactly as before. No hormones are affected at all but you still have to get tested the next week.
The fourth day is commonly the worst. I was wondering what the hell I had done to myself, with no sympathy from the missus (who said), "you wimp try and push out two babies, then you will know about pain is!" On the fifth day, all was settling down well then it just got slightly Uncomfortable. No running around with the kids for two weeks - the jarring will pull you up real quick. Go do it mate, but remember there is no turning back .
No change to performance
Mine was done in the off season. I had very little discomfort overall and was back doing maintenance riding and lifting in 10 - 14 days.
I only waited that long on physician's advice, as I had very little pain. I was back to heavy training after one month.
The only long lasting effects are a tightness in the sutures periodically, usually in conjunction with some other illness like the flu or cold.
I'm Cat 2 track/Cat 3 road, & the surgery has not made a noticeable change in my performance on or off the bike.
Not that painful
I did it right after my second child for the same reason. The doctor told me no lifting, running or cycling for one week. I lifted after two days, ran after three and rode on post day five - easy, no hammering.
The procedure and aftermath are not that painful. I know I was a bad patient, but hey I'm as compulsive as the rest of you. Besides, we're all smarter than our doctors, right?
Seriously, it was a few years ago, and I didn't do any damage that I'm aware of.
Cycling versus other activity
I had my vasectomy in 1994. At the time I was a weekly mountain biker who rode every Saturday morning. I had my procedure on a Tuesday and missed the next Saturday ride, but was out there the following Saturday. So I was off less than two weeks.
I certainly wouldn't recommend running for at least that long and doing leg exercises in the weight room would probably be inadvisable. Since that time I have started riding more frequently and started road cycling, including riding several century rides each year and I have had no long term ill effects.
If it were me I would not wait until next off-season. There are some physical activities I enjoy even more than cycling (OK, just one!) and I'd rather miss a couple weeks of training than end up with more children than I really wanted!
I'd do it again
I had mine done two years ago. It was pretty much complication free.
I stayed off the bike for eight days and had only slight discomfort for another week or so. The key is liberal use of the frozen pea/corn bag immediately after surgery.
I would definitely do it again if I had the opportunity and there is zero change sexually. Actually it's better, not having to use protection.
I shopped around a bit and went to a specialist urologist and paid #$$ instead of going to a HMO dude. It may make a difference.
blue skies, black balls
Craig G. Fenstermaker
Christmas present for the wife
The procedure is not bad. It takes about 8-10 minutes, the incision is about 1/2 an inch, or one stitch. I finished at 3pm on a Friday, drove myself to get a movie or two and then home to the couch.
Next day I was sore and stayed off my feet for one more day. Took a good walk on Sunday, then back work on Monday.
The Doctor said no lifting, riding etc for 10-21 days according to how you feel. I went running about a mile at seven days and urinated a little blood the next day so I took four more days off. Then all was fine. Was a little nervous about weights. Waited about a month, but probably could have started at three weeks.
Did not get on the bike because of several feet of snow, but I probably could have done an easy flat ride at two to three weeks.
The thing is, after the vas deferens are cut and cauterized, any great pressure can cause bleeding. The loose ends also start to recede or pull up into the body (this is what I felt).
Exercise seemed to make them move around a little, so in the mornings I felt a little sore for about three weeks (like a groin pull). The cut is not the painful part, its the internal healing you have to worry about. Yes, the possibility is epidydimits is greater for the first year, but it's still a very small percent.
The no scalpel version is not practiced much in the USA, mostly in China. But, once again, the incision is not the sore part.
Here is my time line: Schedule the weekend before Thanksgiving so you have six days to recover before the family activities. Enjoy the holiday, and when it's all over with you are nine days into recovery.
Back to light training the first week of December and what a Christmas present for the wife!
By the way, the humor and jokes do not start until you go back for the follow-up sample collection eight weeks later.
Sterile in Utah (You didn't think I would put my name did you?)
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