The male vasectomy, or male sterilisation, is a permanent non-hormonal surgical procedure to cut or seal the tubes that carry a man’s sperm. It prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm getting into the semen and is therefore classed as a form of contraception.
Whilst it is reversible, getting the snip is a serious procedure and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like any big decision, it’s important to consider the side effects and helps to read real-life experiences of those who’ve been there before you.
Below we look at the most common vasectomy side effects and consult reviews from our community.
But first, what is a vasectomy?
You should only have a vasectomy if you are certain you do not want children or any have more. If possible, you should agree with your partner that this is the best option too, although it is not a legal requirement. According to the NHS, you may be more likely to be accepted for one if you’re over the age of 30 and have had children. Your GP can refuse to carry out the procedure if they do not believe it is in your best interest.
So, how does a vasectomy work? Well, for starters, there are two types of vasectomy that you will be able to choose from; a conventional vasectomy and a no-scalpel vasectomy…
The doctor will numb your scrotum with a local anaesthetic before making two cuts into the skin on each side. This is so they can reach the tubes that carry the sperm out of your testicles. Each tube is then cut and a small section is removed. The ends are then closed, either by tying them or using heat. The cuts are then stitched up, usually using dissolvable stitches that should disappear within a week.
Like the conventional vasectomy, the doctor will first numb your scrotum with local anaesthetic. However, they will then make a tiny puncture hole in the skin of the scrotum, instead of cutting it with a scalpel. The tubes are then closed in the same way, either by being tied or sealed.
Vasectomy side effects and recovery
It is common to feel uncomfortable, swelling or bruising around the area for the few days during your vasectomy recovery, although a small number of men can experience ongoing pain in their testicles, scrotum, penis or lower abdomen. This is known as chronic post-vasectomy pain or CPVP. Drug treatments may be effective in easing the pain and some men require further surgery. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to relieve these symptoms permanently.
There may be some bruising around that area as well, but this isn’t usually a cause for concern. Doctors might recommend applying cloth-covered ice packs to the scrotum in 10-minute intervals. Short-term bleeding-related complications can also occur.
Any time incisions or instruments are inserted into the body, there is potential risk for infection. These could include bleeding from the surgical site or a in worse cases, a haematoma which is a collection of blood inside the scrotum.
About one in 2,000 male sterilisations fail – this can happen for a number of reasons, the tubes that carry the sperm can occasionally rejoin after sterilisation, immediately or some years after the operation has been carried out. Very rarely there are surgical errors, and the procedure is not completed correctly.
To speed up the recovery, doctors might suggest you wear tight underwear to support your scrotum, stay clean by regularly showering or bathing and waiting a couple of days before returning to work.
Will a vasectomy affect my sex drive?
Have no fear, because a vasectomy will not affect your sex drive as your testicles will continue to produce the male hormone testosterone just as they did before. The sensation – or feeling – during sex will also not change.
You can have sex again as soon as it’s comfortable for you to do so but it is advised you wait about a week.
What do our reviews say?
It’s always nice to get the opinions of those who have actually gone through with the procedure. We are always looking for more reviews at The Lowdown, so if you have an experience with getting a vasectomy, then please do share it.
Here’s what our reviewers said:
“Sept 1998. Had a vasectomy. Easy and quick. Done in the hospital operating room on a Friday morning. Took it easy at work Monday no problems. By Wednesday started feeling pain in testicles. Called doctors office. Doctors gone on holiday. Anyway from this point the pain only gets worse and all the doctors have to say is that they have never seen anyone in such pain. Within the first six months I had met with a variety of doctors and tried a wide variety of drugs, therapies and nerve blocks. Nothing worked for more than a few hours (nerve blocks did!). I had the vasectomy reversed June 1999 at my own cost of $2000. It was about three months before i felt better from that. Sadly only my left testicle had resolved. The right side still had the same pain. I had a semen test done…”
“For women, this is the most natural contraceptive on the market. For me and all the other men, its mostly psychological, but had no side effects.”
“I had a vasectomy at the age of 31 after fathering two children. I didn’t want my wife to be taking drugs for the rest of her child-bearing years – and I also didn’t want the risk of another mouth to feed. My doctor tried to dissuade me on the basis that I may want children in the future. However, we went ahead and it was very straightforward, not all that painful and 100% effective. Ps: You don’t lose your mojo!”
“Vasectomies are relatively safe for surgical procedures, but it is STILL SURGERY and as such has risks and side effects. In particular be aware that many of the side effects aren’t really talked about. In my case I thought I was well educated about the procedure (I am a nurse) but it wasn’t until after the deed was done that I learned for about 10% of men (numbers vary from study to study) the pain from surgery never entirety goes away. Most of the time (including in my case) it’s pretty mild and you can still function, but it’s always there and I was not warned about that possibility. As far as sexual side effects, there’s a lot of misinformation out there so let me cover the basics: -You still ejaculate, and the amount is pretty much unchanged. However, the consistency of your semen does change–often runnier post-op..”
Of course, if you are thinking of getting a vasectomy then it is always wise to seek advice from a medical professional. For now though, and for more information, check out our complete guide to getting the snip.
Photo credit: Sexual Alpha