How Vasectomies Work

What if Something Goes Wrong?

While vasectomy is regarded as a very safe surgery, with few to no serious side effects, on rare occasions, some men do face problems after the procedure. After all, vasectomy is an invasive surgery, which can possibly result in surgical complications like infection, excessive bleeding, medication allergy or scarring. However, claims that vasectomy causes men to develop anti-sperm antibodies, which supposedly lead to problems like heart disease, arthritis and other disorders, have all been unfounded [source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services].

To discover trends in post-vasectomy side effects, researchers followed more than 10,000 men for eight to 10 years after their vasectomy surgeries. The only common side effects shared by the men were swelling and pain in the testis or epididymis, which usually occurred within the first year after vasectomy. For most men, this condition was easily cured within a week by applying heat to the area [source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services]. Testicular pain can be caused by sperm granulomas, which are miniscule lumps that appear in the testes after vasectomy. Sperm granulomas form when sperm leak out of the severed vas, causing inflammation. Sometimes these granulomas grow large or become painful, and surgery can become necessary for their removal [source: National Library of Medicine].

You may be concerned about the effects that vasectomy might have on your sex life. Will it affect your ability to maintain an erection? Will you still be able to ejaculate? To answer these questions, researchers in Australia surveyed more than 3,000 Australian men about their sex lives after their vasectomies. No significant differences were observed between men who had had a vasectomy and those who hadn't. Other studies have confirmed this as well [sources: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Smith et al].

Post-vasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) is a rare side effect of vasectomy. Symptoms of PVPS can include swelling, soreness, pain during sex and ejaculation, or pain during physical activity. Lasting for months or years, the definite cause of PVPS is unknown. One theory is that closed-ended vasectomies cause a build up of pressure, resulting in inflammation, swelling, pressure and pain. Open-ended vasectomy techniques may reduce the risk of PVPS. Some forms of treatment for PVPS include medication, psychiatric treatment and nerve blocks to reduce the pain [source: Christiansen]. Doctors have tried to treat PVPS with vasectomy reversal surgery, but some men have needed two vasectomy reversals before they felt relief from their pain [source: Myers et al.]