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What are the risks of vasectomy?

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Although vasectomy is safe and highly effective, men should be aware of problems that could occur after surgery and over time.1

Surgical Risks

After surgery, most men have discomfort, bruising, and some swelling, all of which usually go away within 2 weeks. Problems that can occur after surgery and need to be checked by a health care provider include:

  • Hematoma. Bleeding under the skin that can lead to painful swelling.
  • Infection. Fever and scrotal redness and tenderness are signs of infection.2

Other Risks

The risk of other problems is small, but they do occur. These include:

  • A lump in the scrotum, called a granuloma. This is formed from sperm that leak out of the vas deferens into the tissue.3
  • Pain in the testicles that doesn’t go away. This is called postvasectomy pain syndrome and occurs in about 10% of men.4
  • Vasectomy failure. There is a small risk that the vasectomy will fail. This can lead to unintended pregnancy. Among 1,000 vasectomies, 11 will likely fail over 2 years; and half of these failures will occur within the first 3 months after surgery.5 The risk of failure depends on a number of factors. For example, some surgical techniques are more likely to fail than others.6 Additionally, there is a very small risk that the two ends of the vas deferens will grow back together. If this happens, sperm may be able to enter the semen and make pregnancy possible.7
  • Risk of regret. Vasectomy may be a good choice for men and/or couples who are certain that they do not want more or any children. Most men who have vasectomy, as well as spouses of men who have vasectomy, do not regret the decision.5 Men who have vasectomy before age 30 are the group most likely to want a vasectomy reversal in the future.6

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Reproductive health: Contraception. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/contraception.htm [top]
  2. American Urological AssociationFoundation. (2011). Vasectomy. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=53 External Web Site Policy [top]
  3. FamilyDoctor.org. (2010). Vasectomy: What to expect. Retrieved May 22, 2012, from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/sex-birth-control/birth-control/vasectomy-what-to-expect.html External Web Site Policy [top]
  4. Christiansen, C. G., & Sandlow, J. I. (2003). Testicular pain following vasectomy: A review of postvasectomy pain syndrome. Journal of Andrology, 24, 293-298. [top]
  5. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Reproductive health: Contraception. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/unintendedpregnancy/contraception.htm [top]
  6. Dassow, P., & Bennett, J. M. (2006). Vasectomy: An update. American Family Physician, 74, 2069-2074. [top]
  7. American Academy of Family Physicians. (2010). Vasectomy: What to expect. Retrieved June 25, 2012, from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/sex-birth-control/birth-control/vasectomy-what-to-expect.html External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 06/03/2013
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