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Vasectomy side effects are rare and pose little threat, with the procedure widely regarded as an extremely safe and reliable method of birth control. As with any surgical procedure, pain is among the likely vasectomy side effects, with inflammation and infection also possible. Other potential vasectomy side effects such as a decline in libido or erectile dysfunction are possible, but they are uncommon and treatable. Some men develop an immune reaction to their own sperm, which might have an impact on their health. The most severe vasectomy side effect, though, is its permanence; unlike other contraceptive methods, a vasectomy is a lifelong measure and is not easily reversed.
Post-operative pain is the most likely side effect to be encountered. The site of the incision will be sore in the days following the operation. This pain should subside within a week, and over-the-counter pain killers usually are sufficient for managing the pain.
Infection and inflammation are possible vasectomy side effects as well. Some redness and swelling is expected, but if these symptoms do not fade within a week or if they are accompanied by fever, medical attention might be required. The man also might develop a granuloma, a small noncancerous lump created by leakage of sperm from the severed vas deferens, which can inflame and infect the area. If any of these vasectomy side effects are suspected, consultation with a doctor is recommended.
Immune reactions to sperm cells are possible after a vasectomy, with some men producing antibodies that target sperm. Researchers have raised concerns that the body’s attack on its own cells might lead to other, potentially serious conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Results of studies have been inconclusive, and no link between these conditions and vasectomy has been confirmed.
Some men do report a decline in sexual interest, and some report erectile dysfunction following a vasectomy. A vasectomy does not, however, affect the levels of testosterone production, nor does it affect sensitivity or any physical function. Vasectomy side effects relating to sex drive and erectile dysfunction usually are emotional in nature, and therapy can be effective in correcting these problems.
Vasectomies are not easily reversible and should be undertaken only by men who are sure that they do not wish to have any more children. In some cases, reversals have been attempted, but the procedure is not reliable. Some have chosen to store semen in a sperm bank just in case they have a change of heart, but this is an expensive option.
Although vasectomies offer very reliable contraception, they do not provide the same degree of protection offered by some other methods. Vasectomies do not, for example, offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases. The ideal vasectomy candidate is a monogamous man who has decided with his partner to have no more children.
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