By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
A vasectomy is a common surgical procedure that involves the clamping and cutting of the vas deferens to inhibit the ability of sperm to be ejaculated in semen and conception to occur. There are several side effects that may occur as a result of this procedure.
Like all surgeries, there is a risk of infection and events related to anaesthesia use. Additionally, there are some other adverse effects that may occur that are specific to vasectomy. These are categorized below as post-surgery and sexual effects.
In most cases, the scrotum area will remain numb for 1 to 2 hours following a vasectomy, due to the anaesthetic administered during the procedure. Following this, the area may become bruised and swollen, and significant pain may be noted for approximately a week.
This pain and inflammation can be reduced with the application of cold packs to the scrotum. Analgesic medication such as paracetamol or NSAIDs may be needed to help relieve the associated pain.
Additionally, taking time to rest and advising patients to lie on their back as much as possible helps to reduce the pressure and pain. Some men find that tight-fitting underwear can help to protect the area and ease any related discomfort.
Occasionally the site of surgery can become infected, leading to related inflammation and more severe pain in the area. If a bacterial infection is suspected, broad-spectrum antibiotics are usually indicated to help reduce the infection and related symptoms.
Men may return to work at the time they feel is suitable for them, but any work involving heavy lifting should be delayed until at least a week after the procedure to reduce the risk of complications. Most men are able to recommence working a few days after the operation, although men with particularly strenuous workplaces may benefit from more leave.
In most cases, it is safe and recommended to continue normal hygiene routines as usual with a bath or shower, which can also help to reduce the risk of infection in the area. Men should pay attention to drying the genital area thoroughly with genital movements of a towel to avoid aggravation of any pain.
Men may resume sexual activity as soon as they feel comfortable, which usually occurs about a week following surgery. Some men may find their semen is slightly red colored for the first few ejaculations after a vasectomy due to the presence of blood, but this is considered normal and is not thought to be harmful.
The vasectomy procedure should not interfere with libido or a man’s ability to have an erection and ejaculate as normal. However, some men do experience a mild aching in the testicles while sexually aroused, particularly in the initial month following surgery.
It is essential that men are aware that, although a vasectomy offers a highly successful contraceptive method, it is not considered complete until a few months after the surgery. This is because some sperm may already be present and have the potential to fertilize an egg and conceive a baby. For this reason, other contraceptive methods should be used following surgery until a test confirms that the sperm count is zero, a few months after surgery.
Additionally, a vasectomy does not offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is, therefore, recommended that men exercise appropriate precautions such as using a condom when engaging in sexual activities, particularly with new and multiple partners.
Last Updated: Jul 20, 2015