Can Impotence (Erectile Dysfunction) Occur After Vasectomy?

Written by The Healthline Editorial Team | Published on February 10, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on February 10, 2014

Vasectomy comes with risks. Find out if impotence is one of them.

Big Decision

According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 50 million men have had a procedure called a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a medical operation that makes a man sterile, meaning he can no longer father a child.

Though a man continues to produce sperm after a vasectomy, the procedure keeps the sperm from passing into the semen.

But can a vasectomy lead to other problems, like impotence? See what the experts say below.

Helping You Choose

The Urology Care Foundation (UCF), the official foundation of the American Urological Association, states that an “uncomplicated” vasectomy won’t lead to impotence (commonly referred to as erectile dysfunction).

A wide range of physical and psychological problems can cause erectile dysfunction (ED), according to the Mayo Clinic. These may include:

  • stress, depression, or anxiety
  • conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • certain prescription drugs, tobacco, or alcohol

Effects on Potency?

The Mayo Clinic does note that “surgeries…that affect the pelvic area” can be a physical cause of impotence.

However, like the UCF, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics state that a vasectomy procedure “should not have any effect upon potency.”

The Cleveland Clinic agrees that a vasectomy “has no effect on sexuality.”

A man who undergoes a vasectomy should have the same number of erections—and the same amount of ejaculate—as prior to the operation.

Vasectomy Risks

Although impotence is not considered a risk of vasectomy, the procedure is not without risks.

There are other risks to consider when deciding whether to have a vasectomy. For instance, bleeding can occur in the scrotum after the operation. According to the Cleveland Clinic this side effect is not considered serious and is also rare.

Redness in the scrotum or a fever may indicate that an infection has occurred.

Other Risks

Most possible side effects of a vasectomy are relatively minor and uncommon.

In addition to bleeding, swelling, or infection, a man may develop a lump in the scrotum after the surgery. This benign lump is called a “granuloma.” It can cause mild pain or sensitivity in the genitalia. This type of lump can develop due to sperm leaking into the scrotal tissues.

Possible Pain Syndrome

The UCF notes that a vasectomy usually doesn’t change a man’s experience of orgasm and ejaculation. But there can be rare exceptions.

Rarely, after the surgery, a patient may develop a condition called “post-vasectomy pain syndrome.” This chronic pain syndrome can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines. Some men who experience this syndrome may decide to have a vasectomy reversal.

What About My Partner?

A major consideration when undergoing a vasectomy is how it may affect your sexual partner. Men concerned about impotence are fearful of losing the ability to satisfy their partners.

Impotence is unlikely. According to the UCF, after a vasectomy, you should have the same amount of ejaculate volume. However, your partner may be able to feel the site where the vasectomy operation took place.

Greater Concerns

While some men and their partners worry that a vasectomy may lead to impotence, there are other risks that are much more likely. Most of these risks, such as mild bleeding or infection, are considered mild side effects of the procedure.

Erectile dysfunction is not considered a risk for most men who undergo vasectomies, as long as their procedures don’t involve rare complications.

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