What are the risks of a vasectomy?

Complications such as inflammation (swelling), bleeding, or infection may occur, but they are relatively uncommon and not serious. Minor risks include:

  • Pain: Any procedure can affect nerves and, rarely, there can be residual pain. The testicles are sensitive organs, so pain can occur in men whether they have had vasectomy or not. It is not clear whether vasectomy increases this risk of testicular pain.   Post-vasectomy pain syndrome is complex and occurs in 1 to 2% of men after vasectomy. Exactly why these varied symptoms develop isn't well understood, but men may experience testicular pain, pain with ejaculation and psychological distress.
  • Sperm granuloma: A hard, sometimes painful lump about the size of a pea may form as a result of sperm leaking from the cut vas deferens. The lump is not dangerous and is almost always absorbed by the body. Scrotal support and mild pain relievers (like Acetaminophen) can help relieve symptoms.
  • Congestion (in the scrotum): A sense of pressure caused by sperm in the testes, epididymis (the structure that stores sperm), and lower vas deferens may cause discomfort for 2 to 12 weeks after a vasectomy. Like a granuloma, congestion usually resolves itself over time.

The risks of vasectomy must be weighed against other options, including the chance of another pregnancy if you do not have the vasectomy.

What are the benefits of a vasectomy?

Vasectomy offers many advantages as a method of birth control. The main benefit is effectiveness. A vasectomy is over 99.99% effective in preventing pregnancies. Like female tubal ligation, vasectomy is a one-time procedure that provides permanent contraception. If you compare female contraception procedures (like tubal ligation) to vasectomy, you will see that vasectomy:

  • Is simpler.
  • Is more effective.
  • Can be performed on an outpatient basis.
  • Has fewer complications (is safer for the patient!).
  • Is much less expensive.

So, if you are asking which is better, tubal ligation or vasectomy, vasectomy is better in many ways.

Will I have any unwanted "side effects" after a vasectomy?

This usually means:

  • Will I produce less testosterone?
  • Will I still want to have sex?
  • Will I produce (and ejaculate) less semen?
  • Will my semen be different?
  • Will my partner be able to tell the difference after a vasectomy?

Basically, the answer to these questions is no! Vasectomy does not affect testosterone production or release. (Testosterone is the male hormone that is responsible for a man's sex drive, facial hair, deep voice and other masculine traits.)

Vasectomy does not affect sexuality in a negative way. Erections, climaxes, and the amount of ejaculate remain the same. The only difference is that your semen will no longer contain sperm. Often, men who have had the procedure find that sex with their partners is more spontaneous and enjoyable because they no longer have to worry about pregnancy or interrupting things to apply contraception.

Does vasectomy pose long-term health risks?

Many studies have looked at the long-term health effects of vasectomy. The evidence suggests that no significant risks exist. Men who have had a vasectomy are no more likely than other men to develop cancer, heart disease, or other health problems. This is spelled out in the Vasectomy Guideline of the American Urological Association.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/04/2020.

References

  • Urology Care Foundation. What is a Vasectomy? Accessed 3/3/2020.
  • American Urological Association. Vasectomy Guideline. Accessed 3/3/2020.
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. How is a vasectomy done? Accessed 3/3/2020.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Sterilization for Women and Men. Accessed 3/3/2020.
  • Frankiewicz M, Połom W, Matuszewski M. Can the evolution of male contraception lead to a revolution? Review of the current state of knowledge. Cent European J Urol. 2018;71(1):108-113.
  • Pernar CH, Downer MK, Wilson KM, Stampfer MJ. Vasectomy and Risk of Prostate Cancer: How to Weigh Current Evidence. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35(12):1272-1273.
  • Nutt M, Reed Z, Köhler TS. Vasectomy and prostate cancer risk: a historical synopsis of undulating false causality. Res Rep Urol. 2016;8:85-93.
  • Amory JK. Male contraception. Fertil Steril. 2016;106(6):1303-1309.
  • Engl T, Hallmen S, Beecken WD, Rubenwolf P, Gerharz EW, Vallo S. Impact of vasectomy on the sexual satisfaction of couples: experience from a specialized clinic. Cent European J Urol. 2017;70(3):275-279.
  • Doolittle J, Dietrich PN, Dadhich P, Brink SM, Roadman D, Kiani K, Machen GL, Sandlow JI. Risk factors for non-compliance in post vasectomy follow up. FertnStert 2019; 112(3)S:e308. ISSN 0015-0282.
  • Sinha V, Ramasamy R. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome: diagnosis, management and treatment options. Transl Androl Urol. 2017;6(Suppl 1):S44-S47.
  • Planned Parenthood. What can I expect if I have a vasectomy? Accessed 3/4/2020.

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