The National Institutes of Health reported in 2009 that approximately 500,000 vasectomies are performed in the United States each year. The procedure, which involves making the male patient infertile by cutting or blocking the left and right portions of the vas deferens to prevent sperm from being included in the man’s semen, is generally complication-free. After a man has a vasectomy, he is usually able to return to normal physical and sexual activities within several days. There are, however, a few side effects that can result after a vasectomy procedure.
The most common side effect of the vasectomy procedure is pain in the genital area, accompanied by swelling and scrotal bruising. For most men, the pain dissipates within three days. If the pain occurs along with a fever and obvious inflammation or does not decrease after three or four days, an incision site infection may have occurred. A physician should be consulted as soon as possible.
A granuloma is any area of tissue that becomes inflamed and enlarged, usually due to some sort of injury. Granulomas can occur after a vasectomy if sperm from the severed vas deferens begins leaking into the scrotum, causing a painful mass of fluid to form in the scrotal tissue. In most instances, anti-inflammatory medications can reverse the condition. In severe cases, however, the vasectomy must be undone if the sperm leakage and resulting swelling cannot be controlled.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the epididymis, the tube that carries sperm from the back of each testicle to the separate parts of the vas deferens. During the vasectomy surgery, the epididymis can become inflamed, causing scrotum and testicle pain, pain while urinating and blood in the semen. Anti-inflammatory medications usually resolve the pain and inflammation within several days.
As with any surgical procedure, incision site infections are a possible side effect of the vasectomy surgery. Men with a resulting infection may experience severe pain and tenderness in the genital area along with a fever. In some cases, an abscess–a painful collection of pus that often occurs at the site of an infection–can develop. Abscesses, as well as any infection occurring after a vasectomy, can usually be effectively treated with a course of antibiotics.
Although a vasectomy does not in any way physically impair sexual function, some men report having difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection after undergoing the procedure. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the problem is based more on a man’s mental and emotional reaction to the procedure than any physiological problem. The study found that men experiencing sexual problems after a vasectomy felt their masculinity had been affected by the surgery and that many had been pushed by their female partners into having the procedure. The researchers concluded that a man’s attitude about his vasectomy can directly affect his post-vasectomy sexual performance.