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Vasectomy Side Effects: What You Need To Know

Vasectomy Side Effects: What You Need To Know

Research shows that in heterosexual partnerships, the burden of preventing pregnancies is assumed by women far more than it is by their male counterparts. Most birth control methods are designed for the female body. Some include the intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implants or injections, emergency contraception pills (also called the morning-after pill), diaphragm, and sterilization (through surgical or non-surgical means). For men, there is the condom, outercourse, and vasectomy.

Different modes of contraception allow people to plan how big a family they want to have. It also enables people to space their pregnancies accordingly so they don’t get overwhelmed with the financial, physical, mental, and emotional responsibility of childcare, not to mention their other obligations. More than that, it reduces the rate of unwanted pregnancies, which in turn lessens the risk to the mother’s health and pregnancy-related deaths. It also diminishes the need for unsafe abortions as well as HIV transmission from mother to newborn.

Before discussing vasectomy and vasectomy side effects, the following is a refresher on sperm formation and ejaculation.

How is sperm formed and released?

Sperm, which fertilizes the egg, and other male sex hormones are formed in the testicles. Sperm leave testes via a tube called the epididymis, where they are stored. Another tube, the vas deferens, links the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct, which runs from the lower part of scrotum to the inguinal canal or the groin area. The vas deferens joins with the seminal vesicle, forming the ejaculatory duct. In ejaculation, seminal fluid mixes with sperm, forming semen.

What types of vasectomies are there?

Vasectomy side effects arise from the surgical nature of the procedure. A conventional vasectomy involves cuts made in the skin of the scrotum to access the vas deferens. A small piece is cut and removed to form a gap between the ends of the vas deferens. Then small tissue may be placed in the gap between the two ends, or they may be tied.

A no-scalpel vasectomy involves a urologist feeling for the vas deferens under the skin of the scrotum. Once found, it will be held in place with a small clamp. A tiny hole will be made to pull the vas deferens out, after which it will be cut, tied or seared.

What vasectomy side effects should I expect?

Post-surgery, common side effects are as follow:

  • Bleeding or blood clot in the scrotum
  • Blood in semen
  • Bruising of the scrotum
  • Infection at the site of surgery
  • Mild pain
  • Swelling (often mitigated by anti-swelling medication)

Complications can arise, albeit very rarely:

  • Chronic pain (occurs in 1 to 2% of men who get the surgery)
  • Fluid build-up in scrotum, resulting in a dull ache
  • Inflammation due to leaking sperm
  • Abnormal cyst in the epididymis
  • Fluid-filled sac surrounding testicle, causing swelling

Factors increasing the risk of complications include smoking, localized infections, bleeding disorders, and previous surgery in that area.

What are some myths about vasectomy?

Some people have misconceptions about vasectomies and vasectomy side effects, which influence their decision to undergo the procedure.

  • Vasectomies affect sexual performance: On the contrary, higher satisfaction has been reported by those who have gotten the surgery.
  • Sexual organs may be damaged: There is actually a very low risk of injury to reproductive organs.
  • There is an increased risk of some cancers and heart disease: There is no evidence-based link between vasectomy and prostate cancer or heart disease.
  • Vasectomies cause severe pain: The incidence of extreme pain is very rare.

However, it is important not to discount certain reactions. If you notice a lump in the scrotum, drainage, redness or swelling, increasing pain, difficulty urinating, or fever and chills, seek medical help immediately.

Key Takeaways

Vasectomies are a highly effective method of contraception, second only to abstinence. Although vasectomies are reversible, be very sure that you and your partner no longer want to have any more children.

Naturally, some vasectomy side effects can be uncomfortable, but overall, it is a low-risk procedure with a quick recovery time of a few days to one week.

Learn more about Contraception here.

Ovulation Calculator

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

Ovulation Calculator

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Vasectomy, https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/v/vasectomyAccessed 3 Mar 2022

Vasectomy, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vasectomy/about/pac-20384580. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

Vasectomy, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/vasectomy. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

Vasectomy, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4423-vasectomy-sterilization. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

Vasectomy: How it Works, https://med.virginia.edu/urology/for-patients-and-visitors/mens-health/vasectomy-how-it-works/. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

Contraception, https://www.who.int/health-topics/contraception#tab=tab_1. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

More than a Physical Burden: Women’s Emotional and Mental Work in Preventing Pregnancy, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115298/. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

9 types of contraception you can use to prevent pregnancy, https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/types-contraception-women-condoms-pill-iud-ring-implant-injection-diaphragm. Accessed 3 Mar 2022

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Written by China Logarta Updated Apr 06
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD