A Vasectomy is a method of male contraception. It involves a minor surgical procedure in which the vasa deferentia (singular: vas deferens) of a man are cut and tied or simply clipped. Sometimes, the cut ends are also cauterized or stitched. The vasa deferentia are tubular structures which transport sperm to the penis during ejaculation. Tying or clipping these tubes prevents sperm from being included in the ejaculate. It is intended to be permanent and is considered a form of sterilization.
A vasectomy is comparable to tubal ligation (typing of the fallopian tubes in women to prevent conception) but is considered even better. This is because it has a failure rate of about 1 in 2000 according to some sources. (1) It is also a painless and simple procedure.
Despite these advantages or benefits, there are also a number of good reasons why men should avoid getting a vasectomy done. These reasons include:
A vasectomy is supposed to be permanent and is only carried out when the man is sure he no longer wants to be able to father children. However, some men later decide to undo the vasectomy for various reasons. This is called a Vasectomy Reversal. Reasons for a vasectomy reversal include wanting to have another child or to treat testicular pain. (2)
While a vasectomy can be reversed in some men, this may not be possible in others. There are also no guarantees that a man will be able to get his partner pregnant after a vasectomy reversal. The above are due to the following:
– The type of vasectomy carried out (e.g. cauterization) and the length of time that has elapsed may make reversal impossible.
– The amount of gonadal scarring and damage that occurs after the vasectomy may render reversal unfeasible.
– After a vasectomy, antibodies to sperm are usually produced in the body of the man. Even if a successful vasectomy reversal is done, the antibodies attack the sperm causing reduced sperm production and reduced fertility. (3)
– Men who undergo vasectomies are likelier to produce abnormal sperm leading to birth defects when a reversal is carried out. (1)
– Nerve damage during the vasectomy or its reversal can cause reduced fertility and other complications.
– Sometimes, occlusion (blockage) of the vasa deferentia reoccurs after the reversal.
Thus, the permanent nature of a vasectomy is a very important reason why a man should opt for other means of contraception.
Increased Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections
A vasectomy is virtually failure-free. Therefore, many men who undergo the procedure tend to become less inhibited in their sexual relations as the risk of unwanted pregnancy has been eliminated. They are less inclined to use forms of protection such as condoms and are consequently, exposed to contracting sexually transmitted infections. These individuals are also more likely to spread these infections.
Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome (4)(5)
This is a chronic pain condition that occurs in a varying percentage of men that undergo vasectomies. In some cases, it is also known as Congestive Epididymitis. Post-vasectomy pain syndrome can be caused by the following consequences of a vasectomy:
– Increased pressure in the testes which occurs due to sperm buildup. This happens because the sperm produced by the testes is trapped following the cutting or clipping of the vasa deferentia.
– Sperm granulomas which are formed when sperm leaks out of the cut tubes into the scrotum. They are attacked by the body’s immune system which recognizes it as foreign leading to pain.
– There may be nerve damage or especially nerve trapping after a vasectomy is done. This causes pain which is increased during intercourse and/or ejaculation.
Post-vasectomy pain syndrome is often difficult to treat. In some cases, the only form of relief is a vasectomy reversal which makes the earlier vasectomy a futile effort.
Increased buildup of sperm can lead to rupture of the epididymis called Epididymal Blowouts. Other structures may be damaged. Vasitis nodosa which is a thickening and inflammation of the vas deferens also occurs. (5) Gonadal damage contributes to the failure of a vasectomy reversal.
The failure of a vasectomy in which there is spontaneous vasectomy reversal is very rare but is known to occur. This can result in unwanted and ill-timed pregnancies.
Reduced Libido and Erectile Dysfunction
Some men may suffer from reduced sexual desire and/or erectile dysfunction after a vasectomy.
2. Vasectomy reversal: Why it’s done
3. Vasectomy Risks and Benefits
4. Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome
5. Cory G. Christiansen and Jay I. Sandlow
Testicular Pain Following Vasectomy: A Review of Postvasectomy Pain Syndrome