Updated February 2019
All surgeries carry some risk. Complications from vasectomy tend to be rare, minor, and seldom require intensive medical treatment. But it's still important to know what side effects and potential complications you could run into before you sign off on the procedure.
If any concern you or you want more information, talk to your doctor about them during your consultation.
Allergic Reaction - Rarely, some men may experience itching and hives, as the result of an allergic reaction to the local anesthetic.
Antibodies - After a vasectomy, some men will produce “anti-sperm antibodies” due to exposure of sperm proteins to the immune system. These antibodies do not appear to impact the success of a later vasectomy reversal. (They also have not, however, been definitively linked to other immune-related diseases. For more information, see "Is there a link between vasectomy and disease?")
Bruising - Bruising may occur on the skin of the scrotum or the penis. This is a normal side effect of a vasectomy, and the bruises should be gone after about two weeks.
Chronic Scrotal Pain – According to the American Urologic Association, chronic scrotal pain that negatively impacts quality of life is reported in 1-2% of men.
Epididymitis - One of the more common post-vasectomy complications, occurring in up to 6 percent of vasectomies, epididymitis is caused by inflammation and swelling of the epididymis. Heat and anti-inflammatory medications (alone or combined with antibiotics in appropriate cases) can usually clear it up within a week.
Hematoma – Bruising and swelling are common after a vasectomy. More significant pooling and clotting of blood within the scrotum occurs in up to 1-2% of all vasectomy patients. It usually starts within the first week after the procedure and can cause pain or swelling. While it is rarely serious, you should report any bleeding to your doctor.
Infection - Infections occur in about 1-2% percent of vasectomy patients. These are usually minor and respond favorably to antibiotic treatment and antimicrobial creams. More serious infections are rare.
Postoperative Pain - Short-term pain after a vasectomy is normal and usually resolves within a day or two, although a slight ache can remain for a while longer. Surgeons usually recommend acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) for the first 48 hours, since aspirin and ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) can cause bleeding.
Sexual Difficulties - A vasectomy should not affect your sex drive, or your ability to have erections or ejaculate. If you experience sexual difficulties after a vasectomy, contact your doctor. They may be a sign of either emotional or physical issues, including heart disease.
Sperm Granulomas - These small, usually painless lumps occur when sperm leak out of the vas and cause an inflammatory reaction. The resulting cluster of immune cells does not pose a danger and usually resolves over time. Granulomas do cause pain in a small number of men, typically about two to three weeks after the vasectomy.
Adams CE, Wald M. Risks and complications of vasectomy. Urol Clin North Am. 2009; 36(3):331-6.
Davis BE, Noble MJ, Weigel JW, Foret JD, Mebust WK. Analysis and management of chronic testicular pain. J Urol. 1990; 143(5):936-9.
Kendrick JS, Gonzales B, Huber DH, Grubb GS, Rubin GL. Complications of vasectomies in the United States. J Fam Pract. 1987 Sep;25(3):245-8.
Schwingl PJ, Guess HA. Safety and effectiveness of vasectomy. Fertil Steril. 2000 May;73(5):923-36.