A vasectomy is a procedure that prevents sperm from mixing with semen during ejaculation. It’s an effective approach to male birth control commonly used in the United States. And because it doesn’t involve the hormones that affect sex drive, a vasectomy should not impact your sexual desire.

Indeed, a 2017 study with nearly 300 couples found that sexual satisfaction, sexual desire, and erectile function actually improved for men after a vasectomy. Sexual satisfaction for women remained mostly unchanged after a partner had a vasectomy.

Sexual desire, also known as libido, is affected by several factors, including certain hormones (primarily testosterone), as well as psychological well-being and social circumstances.

Stress, whether it involves a relationship, work, health, or other matter, can affect sexual desire and sexual function. Psychological conditions, such as depression, can lead to sexual dysfunction, a 2017 research review showed. While a vasectomy may help remove possible stress associated with unintentionally impregnating a sexual partner, it’s equally possible that a vasectomy could cause stress for some people, too.

Social factors, especially the nature of your sexual relationships, can also have significant impacts on your sexual desire. A healthy relationship should make the transition to life after a vasectomy a positive one.

For males, the hormone testosterone is a key driver of sexual desire. It’s mainly produced in the testes, which also manufacture sperm. And though a vasectomy involves the vas deferens, which carry sperm from the testes to the urethra, the National Institutes of Health say that the procedure doesn’t interfere with testosterone production.

A vasectomy simply cuts and seals the vas deferens, which are ducts in each testicle. This results in semen that has no sperm. You’ll be able to ejaculate as you always did before a vasectomy, only after the procedure, that semen won’t contain any sperm. The result is that you’ll be sterile, but still sexually healthy.

Other brain chemicals are also involved with male libido. They include:

  • dopamine, which affects emotion, memory, muscle control, and several other functions
  • serotonin, which affects emotion, the sleep-wake cycle, and impulse
  • glutamate, a powerful excitatory neurotransmitter involved with signaling between nerve cells

A 2020 research review showed that the chances of a vasectomy affecting sexual function are quite low. Your ability to become aroused and enjoy sexual activity as you did before the vasectomy should remain unchanged. You’ll still ejaculate semen, which will appear the same as it did when it included sperm.

A reduced libido can be the result of many circumstances and health conditions. Among them are:

Talking with your partner is a good place to start to unravel changes in your sex life. Together, you may be able to pinpoint when things changed and what might have triggered the change.

You may also benefit from talking with your primary care physician or a urologist. In some cases, a loss of desire or sexual dysfunction can be an early symptom of diabetes or heart disease. Treating the underlying condition may improve both sexual desire and function.

Though it’s a commonly performed procedure and one that is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are possible complications and side effects from a vasectomy.

Though unusual, vasectomy side effects may include:

  • post-vasectomy pain, which affects about 1 to 2 percent of people who have a vasectomy
  • sperm granuloma, a small lump that forms when sperm leaks into a vas deferens that has been cut and sealed as part of a vasectomy
  • congestion in the scrotum, which is a buildup of sperm in the scrotum

Congestion and sperm granuloma usually resolve without any medical interventions required.

If you experience post-vasectomy pain or other physical symptoms affecting the scrotum or sexual function, contact your doctor soon. Likewise, a noticeable drop in sexual desire should be discussed with a doctor, too.

You may benefit from testosterone therapy if your levels are low. Or if cardiovascular disease or some other underlying condition is affecting your health and sex life, getting treatment sooner rather than later may benefit you in many ways.

If you suspect that relationship concerns or a condition affecting mood, such as depression or anxiety, is at the root of your concerns, consider a therapist. Couples therapy may address many concerns and tends to be most effective when both partners go into the process together with an open mind.

A vasectomy is a widely used form of male birth control, but it’s not a procedure that affects testosterone, the hormone that fuels your sex drive. While changes in sexual desire are common throughout life, a drop in libido after a vasectomy is typically uncommon and should be discussed with your partner, doctor, or therapist.