As with any surgical procedure, a vasectomy can carry some risk of side effects. It is important to note that vasectomy should be considered a permanent form of birth control, and it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or AIDS. Major complications, however, are rare.
Early Vasectomy Complications
The area is carefully checked for active bleeding at the end of your vasectomy. Also, because the small incision is left open, there is little likelihood that blood will collect under the skin to cause bruising. However, men who are hit in the testicles soon after the surgery or are too active, may stir up some bleeding. In minor cases the bleeding may cause painless bruising but, in more severe cases, can cause swelling and pain. The bleeding generally stops on its own and the blood will be reabsorbed by the body over about 2 weeks.
Any disruption in the skin can lead to an infection. Fortunately, the risk of a skin infection after vasectomy is rare. All patients are given a short course of antibiotics to help prevent a skin infection. A small amount of redness, bruising and swelling is normal. If you develop a fever, or the swelling is not going down, increases, or becomes very painful, call the doctor for an examination. Such vasectomy infections usually respond favorably to antibiotic treatment, antimicrobial creams and hot baths, usually within a week.
Epididymitis refers to another form of ‘infection’ after a vasectomy. This condition occurs when the larger tube behind the testicle, connected to the vas, becomes inflamed and swollen. This inflammation can be due to bacterial infection or may be a temporary response to the vasectomy. This condition would appear about 5-7 days after your vasectomy but can occur several weeks later. The application of heat, continued use of a jock strap and the use of anti-inflammatory medication with antibiotics usually clear this up within a week.
Some degree of post vasectomy pain or ache is normal following a vasectomy. The use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) is recommended over aspirin, which can cause bleeding. Any painful discomfort normally resolves within a day or two, while a slight ache may remain longer. The ache may also be present in your groins. This is caused by referral of pain along nerves that run with the vas deferens. Using the jock strap will take tension off of these nerves and alleviate much of your discomfort.
Late Vasectomy Complications
Are benign (non-cancerous) lumps that may develop as a result of leakage of sperm from the cut end of the vas deferens into the scrotal tissues, resulting in an inflammatory reaction. This condition is more common in patients undergoing an ‘open-ended’ vasectomy which we do not routinely perform. This lump may be painful or sensitive to touch or pressure and is generally treated with anti-inflammatory agents. In a very small number of cases, granulomas can cause more serious complications.
Very rarely the cut ends of the vasectomy can rejoin to allow live sperm to be present in the ejaculate. The U.S. Agency for International Development states that the failure rate for vasectomies is from 0.2% to 0.4% up to as high as 3-5%. The Centers for Disease Control estimate there is a probability of failure in 11 per 1,000 procedures over two years. Half of the failures occurred in the first three months after the vasectomy. No failures occurred after 72 weeks. We take special attention to separate the vasal ends from one another using suture in an effort to further reduce this possibility.
Post-vasectomy syndrome or Chronic Orchalagia
Is a rare vasectomy complication that results in a dull post vasectomy pain or ache in the testicles that is thought to be caused by a congestion of the epididymis with dead sperm and fluid. This condition may not present for several months after the vasectomy. It is not known why some men develop this chronic pain condition but it is known that early intervention can help most.
Sperm which are no longer released through ejaculation and absorbed by the body may attract antibodies produced following vasectomy. Following vasectomy, the immune system may recognize the absorbed sperm cells as foreign proteins and produce antibodies in response. While many men may experience this immune reaction, current evidence indicates that this reaction generally is not harmful.