The Long-Term Side Effects of a Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure that is used by men wishing to become permanently sterile. When a man is sterile, he is no longer able to impregnate his partners. After vasectomy, most men experience few long-term side effects, but a small percentage of men will have lasting problems after the surgery.

Pain and Swelling are Common

A study of over 10,000 men by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development questioned whether common long-term side effects existed for men after vasectomy. The researchers observed only one condition that appeared to be widespread, which was called epididymitis/orchitis. Symptoms of this condition include pain, swelling, or tenderness of the epididymis or testis. Epididymitis/orchitis can be easily treated by applying heat to the area (See Reference 1).

Sperm Granulomas Can Occur

During vasectomy surgery, the vas deferens is severed and then cautered, tied or blocked off to prevent sperm leakage. On rare occasions, sperm granulomas can develop after this process. Sperm granulomas are miniature lumps caused when sperm leaks out from the cut end of the vas deferens after surgery. Some men are able to feel these lumps in the testicles, which can sometimes cause pain and inflammation. For severe discomfort, surgery is used to correct this condition (See Reference 2).

Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome

Rarely, a complication known as post vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) occurs after vasectomy. This condition, with no known cause, is identified by chronic, long-term pain and discomfort felt in the testicles and lower pelvic region after vasectomy surgery. Some men find pain relief for PVPS after they undergo a vasectomy reversal (See Reference 3). Other men may seek treatment for PVPS with medication, nerve blocks, or psychiatric care to learn how to cope with the pain (See Reference 4).

Risk of Prostate Cancer Unproven

In the 1980s and 1990s, doctors were concerned that vasectomy might increase the risk of prostate cancer for some men. However, several reputable studies in the 1990s and 2000s discounted this claim. For instance, a New Zealand study of several thousand men showed that vasectomy was not linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer (See Reference 5). Reputable agencies such as the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have concluded that vasectomy does not increase the risk of prostate cancer for men (See Reference 1).

Sexual Performance

Many men may feel nervous about getting a vasectomy, since it involves surgery on the sexual organs. Some men may fear that vasectomy will cause long-term problems with their ability to maintain an erection, have an orgasm or feel pleasure during sex. These fears are largely unfounded by science. Researchers in Australia interviewed over 3000 men post-vasectomy and found that there were no differences in sexual satisfaction between men who had vasectomies and those who had not (See Reference 6).

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