If you’re considering a vasectomy, side effects are likely prominent in your mind.
After all, surgery on your genitalia is a terrifying prospect for most men, and a vasectomy can cause more fear than other procedures because, most of the time, you’re awake for the procedure.
However, this simple outpatient surgery isn’t something you should worry much about, at least, in terms of debilitating side effects.
Vasectomies have been performed for decades, and the technique is so simple it can be done in your doctor’s office. Most debilitating side effects are rare.
We’ll get into the side effects here in a bit, but, when I’m speaking with a man about birth control options and he asks me what I think about him getting a vasectomy, I want him to understand that this is a solution that may be permanent.
Vasectomy Side Effects — You May Be Rendered Permanently Infertile
You (and your partner) need to be very certain you don’t want children in the future — This is really my main concern for men considering a vasectomy.
The problem isn’t necessarily that the vasectomy can’t be reversed. It typically can be, but it’s not as simple as turning a switch on and off. It doesn’t always work, and even if it does, you might still be infertile for an entirely different reason.
When you get a vasectomy, your vas deferens are either cut, clamped, or otherwise obstructed. Your vas deferens are basically the delivery pathway for your sperm — if they’re cut or blocked, sperm cannot enter your semen.
When your vas deferens are cut, reattaching them is possible, but not simple, and the procedure to do so is more invasive, expensive, and has more potential complications than the original vasectomy. The longer it’s been since you had your vasectomy, the less likely you’ll be able to recover fertility.
But even this isn’t the most concerning possible side effect. The reason you need to be certain you don’t ever want children (or don’t want more children) is that your body can do something a little strange after a vasectomy.
It can start creating antibodies that target your sperm cells.
If Your Body Starts Producing Sperm Antibodies, Your Partner Is Unlikely to Ever Become Pregnant
It’s almost silly to say, but one major potential side effect of a vasectomy is infertility.
And as vasectomy side effects go, this one is rather permanent.
If your body starts producing sperm antibodies, your chance of ever having a child (or another child) drops significantly.
In fact, it’s almost nonexistent, and there’s no way to reverse your body’s production of these antibodies. They attack your sperm, rendering you infertile, and there’s little you can do to stop them.
If you’re thinking about freezing some sperm because you might want children (or more children) in the future, you may not be a good candidate for vasectomy.
Other Possible Vasectomy Side Effects
Vasectomies comes with some other possible side effects, but they’re generally mild or rare. Here’s a short list:
- Chronic pain, especially in the testicles
- Fluid buildup
- Granuloma (inflammation)
- A cyst on your testicle
- Swelling of the scrotum
If you’re considering a vasectomy, side effects like these should be on your radar as they are the most potentially severe. Still, it’s likely not something to be overly concerned with. Like any surgical intervention, there are risks, but most patients will do fine.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy May Prevent Pregnancy
It’s quite common for men who go on testosterone replacement therapy to experience decreased fertility (if it’s not eliminated outright).
Sperm counts often drop for men on testosterone replacement therapy, but it’s unlikely to be complete. While some men will want to take measures to maintain fertility, others will not.
Of course, this only works for men who need testosterone replacement therapy, men who suffer from demonstrated low testosterone levels. If you don’t have low testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy is likely not a viable option for birth control.
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