Convincing your partner that vasectomy is the right choice for birth control is a simple task. That is because vasectomy truly is the safest, cheapest, and most effective form of birth control. To convince your partner, just present the following facts:
All surgeries carry some risk, but complications from vasectomy tend to be rare, minor, and seldom require intensive medical treatment. Below, find some of the most common risks and side effects for a vasectomy.
If you have concerns or want more information about the possible risks, complications, and long-term effects of a vasectomy, talk to your doctor.
Allergic Reaction – Rarely, some men may experience itching and hives, as the result of an allergic reaction to the local anesthetic.
Antibodies – After a vasectomy, sperm produced in the testicles are absorbed by the body. This process may cause the immune system to produce antibodies to the sperm. These “anti-sperm antibodies” are mostly harmless, but they can affect the success of a later vasectomy reversal. (They have not, however, been linked to other immune-related diseases. For more information, see “Is there a link between vasectomy and disease?“)
Bruising – Bruising may occur on the skin of the scrotum or the penis. This is a normal side effect of a vasectomy, and the bruises should be gone after about two weeks.
Chronic Scrotal Pain – Fifteen to 19 percent of men who have had a vasectomy experience pain that lasts more than three months and interferes with daily activities. This type of pain, however, can also have causes unrelated to the vasectomy—such as inflammation of the epididymis, trauma, or twisting of the testicle (torsion).
Epididymitis – One of the more common post-vasectomy complications, occurring in up to 6 percent of vasectomies, epididymitis is caused by inflammation and swelling of the epididymal tube. Heat and anti-inflammatory medications (alone or combined with antibiotics) can usually clear it up within a week.
Hematoma – Pooling of blood within the tissue occurs in up to 29 percent of all vasectomy patients. It usually starts within the first week after the procedure, and can cause pain or swelling. While it is rarely serious, you should report any bleeding to your doctor.
Infection – Infections occur in about 3.5 percent of vasectomy patients. These are usually minor and respond favorably to antibiotic treatment, antimicrobial creams, and hot baths. More serious infections are rare.
Postoperative Pain – Short-term pain after a vasectomy is normal and usually resolves within a day or two, although a slight ache can remain for a while longer. Surgeons usually recommend acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) with or without codeine for the first 48 hours, since aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) can cause bleeding.
Sexual Difficulties – A vasectomy should not affect your sex drive, or your ability to have erections or ejaculate. If you experience sexual difficulties after a vasectomy, contact your doctor. They may be a sign of either emotional or physical issues, including heart disease.
Sperm Granulomas – These small, usually painless lumps occur when sperm leak out of the vas and cause an inflammatory reaction. The resulting cluster of immune cells does not pose a danger and usually resolves over time. Granulomas do cause pain in a small number of men, typically about two to three weeks after the vasectomy.
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So, my husband had a vasectomy this morning. The procedure was a breeze, and he’s fine, aside from feeling a little embarrassed at some things he said. He had to take a Valium before the procedure, and his comments reminded me of the time he was drugged up and had his wisdom teeth out. I […]
After a vasectomy, it can take many months before your semen is free of sperm. During this time, you will need to continue using another form of birth control while having sex.
Sperm travel from the testicles through several tubes before they are mix with the semen. One of these tubes is the vas deferens, which runs from each testicle. During a vasectomy, both vas deferens are cut. This prevents new sperm made in the testicles from being ejaculated along with the semen.
However after a vasectomy, some sperm still remain in the part of the vas deferens closer to the penis — the upper part. It can take 20 to 30 ejaculations before all the sperm are cleared from these tubes. In most men, it may be three or more months before they have no sperm — or very few non-motile (non-moving) sperm — in their semen.
It only takes one sperm to fertilize a woman’s egg. So until the vas deferens is free of motile sperm, there is still a chance of pregnancy. During this time you will need to use another type of contraception every time you have sex.
Your doctor will retest your semen about eight weeks after your vasectomy to see if there are still sperm present. This shows whether the vasectomy was successful, meaning you are infertile. If the tests show that your semen is free of sperm, then you no longer have to use additional birth control.
Some men, though, will continue to have a small number of non-motile sperm in their semen. Because the sperm are non-motile, the risk of pregnancy may be low.
One study found that around 10 percent of men undergoing a vasectomy reversal still had sperm in their semen. However, no pregnancies occurred in the partners of these men since their vasectomy.
If sperm is still present in your semen during the follow-up test, your doctor will talk to you about your options. This may include further testing. Your doctor may also decide that the chance of pregnancy is low enough that you don’t need to worry.
A vasectomy failure means that sperm continue to be present in the semen after a certain amount of time has passed since the vasectomy. This can happen during the period before the vas deferens tubes were cut. In rare cases, men may have two vas deferens on one side, and one of these is missed during the surgery.
In other cases, the two cut ends of the vas deferens can rejoin to form a complete tube. Your doctor may suspect this if you continue to have motile sperm after a vasectomy, or your sperm count continues to increase.
When the vasectomy is a failure, men will either have to continue using another form of contraception or undergo another vasectomy.
This is probably one of the most common questions asked at a vasectomy consultation.
The second most common? “What is the success rate of a vasectomy?” (I’ll address that next time.) J.M.
Urology – February 28, 2009 – Vol. 25 – No. 04
Article Reviewed: Vasectomy and the Risk of Prostate Cancer. Holt SK, Salinas CA, Stanford JL: J Urol; 2008;180 (December): 2565-2568.
This is a common finding following a vasectomy. It can be nothing more than the normal healing process that would occur with any procedure as the body attempts to heal the trauma of the transected vas deferens.
A sperm granuloma again is a natural body response to the leakage of sperm that may have occurred at the vasectomy site. These areas are sometimes tender to the touch or in certain sitting positions. Uncommonly if the pain is significant enough, a course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories are necessary. Rarely the discomfort is often enough and bad enough that a patient will request that the can be removed surgically.
I did a vasectomy on a friend of mine who developed a sperm granuloma and it was painful to him about every six months or two years and responded to antibiotics, although there is no real scientific reason for this. The after a few years, it stopped bothering him. He would call and say, “John, my sperm “granola” is back.” J.M.
Epididymitis is an inflammation or infection of the epididymis—a long coiled tube that is attached to the upper part of the testicle and is used to store sperm. It’s a rare complication that, if it occurs, usually hits during the first year following a vasectomy. Occasionally, however, it can manifest years after the procedure.
Common symptoms of epididymitis include:
Consequently, since epididymitis can be caused by bacteria (and may or may not be a direct complication of vasectomy), treatment often starts with a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection, combined with conservative therapies of reduced activity and pain management (including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, scrotal support, and applying heat or cold).
If you still experiencing significant discomfort after a few months of conservative pain management, additional treatments for chronic pain may be necessary. These include the use of local steroids, tricyclic antidepressants, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation analgesia.
For the few whose pain is not relieved by non-surgical approaches, surgery can offer relief.
Surgical options include:
These days, urologists have made some modifications to the vasectomy technique to decrease a man’s risk of developing post-vasectomy epididymitis.
Because one potential cause of inflammation is pressure from sperm building up in the epididymis, an open-ended vasectomy procedure—in which one end of the vas deferens is left uncauterized, thereby relieving pressure and decreasing the likelihood of sperm granulomas, or masses that develop in an immune reaction to sperm that have leaked from the cut vas.
Another technique is preemptive analgesia, in which the urologist floods the vas deferens with a local anesthetic before it is cut. Early evidence suggests that both these procedures can reduce the chances of epididymitis post-vasectomy, but further study is needed for conclusive results.
There is still much researchers and physicians don’t yet understand about epididymitis as a post-vasectomy complication, including what causes it and how to further prevent it. Controlled studies focusing on newer vasectomy techniques, the role of sperm granuloma in the condition and the role of the immune system post-vasectomy will help build a more comprehensive understanding of epididymitus and how best to treat it.
Updated on June 27, 2016
Urology – April 30, 2016 – Vol. 34 – No. 1
Article Reviewed: Relationship Between Vasectomy and Sexual Frequency. Guo DP, Lamberts RW, Eisenberg ML: J Sex Med; 2015;12 (September): 1905-1910.
Urology – September 30, 2013 – Vol. 30 – No. 10
Article Reviewed: Vasectomy Demographics and Postvasectomy Desire for Future Children: Results From a Contemporary National Survey. Sharma V, Le BV, et al: Fertil Steril; 2013;99 (June): 1880-1885.