Post-vasectomy pain syndrome is a rare complication that can happen right after a vasectomy or months later. You develop testicular pain that causes a dull aching feeling. The pain may be constant or come and go. If treatments like medications don’t ease symptoms, you may need a vasectomy reversal or a different surgery.
A small number of men who get vasectomies develop chronic pain in their testicles after the procedure. Your healthcare provider may diagnose post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) if the pain lasts for three months or longer. The pain may develop immediately after the procedure or months to years later.
A vasectomy (also called male sterilization) is a minor surgical procedure on the male reproductive system. A urologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the male reproductive tract, typically performs vasectomies.
During the outpatient procedure, your healthcare provider cuts or blocks off the two vas deferens tubes. These tubes carry sperm from each of your testicles (testes) to the ejaculatory ducts. Before a vasectomy, sperm mixes with fluid in the seminal vesicles. During orgasm, you ejaculate semen and sperm through the urethra in your penis.
After a vasectomy, sperm can’t travel through the cut or blocked vas deferens tubes. Instead, the sperm cells stay in your testicles where your body reabsorbs them. Because there’s no sperm in your semen, you can’t fertilize a woman’s egg, causing a pregnancy. You’ll still ejaculate and orgasm normally.
A vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy) may be possible if you change your mind about wanting biological children. However, healthcare providers consider a vasectomy to be a permanent form of birth control.
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Complications after a vasectomy are rare. Out of every 100 vasectomies, approximately one or two men develop post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Healthcare providers perform about half a million vasectomies every year. So, the incidence of post-vasectomy pain syndrome is very low.
Medical experts aren’t sure why a small number of men develop post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Potential causes include:
Chronic testicular pain that lasts for at least three months is the main symptom of PVPS. This pain may come on soon after the procedure. Some men develop pain months or years after getting a vasectomy.
You may have a dull constant aching feeling in your testicles. Or the pain may come and go. Some men have pain during exercise, an erection, ejaculation or other moments in the sexual response cycle.
Other conditions can cause testicular pain, such as:
There isn’t a diagnostic test for post-vasectomy pain syndrome. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms and perform a physical examination.
You may undergo tests to detect or rule out other conditions that also cause testicular pain. These tests include:
Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels for men) may help ease symptoms of post-vasectomy pain syndrome. You see a physical therapist who specializes in conditions that affect your pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that support your bladder, intestines and reproductive organs.
You may also benefit from:
Chronic pain from PVPS can be difficult to treat. If nonsurgical therapies don’t provide adequate symptom relief, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery.
A vasectomy reversal provides pain relief for more than 9 in 10 men. However, it also restores your fertility. Other surgical options vary depending on the underlying cause of your pain. They include:
Post-vasectomy pain syndrome is very rare. Because medical experts aren’t sure why some men develop this pain, there isn’t anything you can do to prevent it.
Surgical treatments can be highly successful. A vasectomy reversal eases pain for as many as 9 in 10 men. About 3 in 4 men are pain-free after undergoing microdenervation (cord stripping). But unfortunately, some men continue to have pain after surgery.
Call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
For men who don’t want to have more children (or any children), a vasectomy is a safe and permanent form of birth control. Your risk of developing post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) is extremely low. But if you develop chronic testicular pain after the procedure, there are nonsurgical and surgical treatments that can help. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your healthcare provider if you have testicular pain. They can help you get symptom relief.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/13/2022.
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